A World Apart (1988)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama, Political Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Tom Wiener

We've seen screen children neglected by parents preoccupied by essentially meaningless jobs or the pursuit of selfish aims (see American Beauty). But cinematographer Chris Menges's impressive debut offers a different take on that dynamic: the price the offspring of political activists pay for their parents' professional devotion. Barbara Hershey, excellent at playing single-minded women, is superb as Diana Roth, and 12-year-old Jodhi May, making her film debut, is a marvel as Molly Roth. (At the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, the actresses shared the Best Actress Award with Linda Mvusi, who plays Elsie, the Roth family maid.) This is mostly a mother-daughter story-Gus (Jeroen Krabbe) the father is not around enough to make an impression--and Diana is sensitive enough to sense the turbulence in her daughter's life. Shawn Slovo's autobiographical script is sympathetic to Molly's dilemma without turning her into a martyr; Molly is just mature enough to understand that the anti-Apartheid cause needs committed people like her parents, but she is after all, a budding adolescent, with all the self-imposed angst that comes with that territory.