Writer: Cynthia Mort (Screenplay)
Starring: Zoe Saldana, David Oyelowo, Kevin Mambo, Ronald Guttman, Chuma Gault, Allison Sarofilm, Mike Epps, Keith David
Plot: The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.
Tagline – Singer. Activist. Survivor. Legend.
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Biopic 101
Story: Nina starts as we see Nina Simone (Saldana) performing one of Nina’s iconic songs as we see how the rise and fall of the iconic star happened through the different eras of music, now in the early 90s, she finds herself in a rehab centre needing to clean herself up after learning she doesn’t have al the money she has earnt in her career.
Becoming friends with Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) who she makes her manager to help keep her appointments in order and keeping her on the right medication, the two fast become friends as Clifton learns about what drove Nina down the spiral she went down.
Thoughts on Nina
Characters – Nina is the iconic jazz and classical musician that broke boundaries, we follow her in the mid-90s where she is considered an icon but has fallen out of the limelight after struggling with her personal addictions to drinks. She hires a new manager to help her try and turn her life around, though her paranoia towards people in her life doesn’t help her and her sickness needs help from Clifton. Clifton is an orderly at the rehab centre Nina stays at, she trusts him, making him the only one she does, he gets recruited into being her manager as he helps to try and turn her career around and bring her back to the spotlight, where she deserves to be. The rest of the characters we meet are family, lawyers, promotors and celebrities that Nina would have met in her life.
Performances – Zoe Saldana did face backlash for her choice in the role because her background isn’t the same as Nina’s, away rom this conversation this is a performance that show Saldana isn’t all action with this being her strongest acting performance of her career. David Oyelowo is great too as he seems capable of stepping into any role he wants challenging Chadwick Boseman for biopic-man title. The supporting cast are great too where they help with the important scenes in the film.
Story – The story focuses on the real people of Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson as they try to help bring Nina’s career back on track. This is where the story becomes disappointing to see, sure it is great to see how she was aiming to make her comeback, but we don’t learn enough on the first rise, the struggles she faced and what led her down the addiction problems, which are always the more interesting part of any celebrity’s lives.
Biopic/Music – The music shown here are the iconic songs of Nina Simone’s career and if you didn’t know she sang them you will by the end of the film. the biopic side of the film does show us a crucial part of Nina’s life though it would have been nice to learn more about getting to this stage.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show where Nina heads to recover to get in the mood for her music and creative energy, they do end up looking like locations you could imagine the celebrity would be around.
Final Thoughts – This is the standard biopic, we get to see the once famous star try to turn their career around, though we don’t learn enough about their career in the first place.
Overall: Standard biopic.