‘Nina’: Film Review
Zoe Saldana stars as "High Priestess of Soul" Nina Simone in an already controversial new biopic.
Heading into release with one strike against it — some have already slammed the film over lighter-skinned Zoe Saldana playing darker-toned Nina Simone — Nina takes another strike by focusing on a period of the great singer’s life, her late years in France, that’s far less dramatic than numerous earlier stages. The film also hits a couple of fouls with its exceedingly expository dramatic approach and tendency to hip-hop through her career without going deep. It’s not the biographical film this stupendous, if mightily troubled, musical and political figure deserved, especially coming in the immediate wake of Liz Garbus‘ riveting documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? last year. Ironically, however, the latter film might help the new one find a bit more of an audience than it would have otherwise, by virtue of having reawakened public awareness of this convulsively talented, if sometimes self-destructive, artist. Still, theatrical returns will be meager for the sporadically intense drama, which was shot in 2012, with interested parties more likely to check it out in home-access venues.