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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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.