Movie Review: Nina

Starring : Zoe Saldana, David Oleyowo, Mike Epps

I cannot honestly remember the last time I watched a music biopic that was any good. I’ve been disillusioned for a while (since maybe 8 Mile, maybe), but every once in a while I come out of the woodwork to give something I hope may be great a chance.

It’s almost always a bad idea.

Last year, I gave Straight Outta Compton a chance. Honestly I should have just watched Amy but I felt like it was going to make me cry too much. SOC was overrated and purely dependent on pulling people’s nostalgia heartstrings so that no one would notice the fact that it was factually off.

However, that being said, the casting was undoubtedly genius, and, because I like hip hop, watching how that particular era came to be was priceless. I mean…Ice Cube Jr. looks more like Ice Cube than Ice Cube. Brilliant. But not worth it.

Then I watched Whitney, the one with the model (Yaya DaCosta) playing her. I couldn’t even get to the end. I shouldn’t have tried to watch that. I appreciated the fact that they showed that Bobby Brown wasn’t the cause of Whit’s cocaine problems but for Pete’s sake why was the acting so bad?

And then I thought that third time would be the charm with Nina.


Maybe it is because there was so much noise around it that I couldn’t give it the proper attention it deserved. But I couldn’t not see Zoe Saldana in blackface, essentially; I couldn’t not see past David Oleyowo’s terrible acting choices (I mean he was Martin Luther King Jr. – from that to this? It’s like Aaron Eckhart, from Two-Face to the poor man’s Frankenstein); I couldn’t see past the haphazardness of the script, and the convenient playing with the timelines of her songs.

And it isn’t that I am a huge Nina Simone fan. It’s just that it wasn’t a great movie and I truly feel like it was embarrassing to her legacy to even put that out there. Or maybe that is why I didn’t like it?

On the plus side, hearing Nina is always great, even in the midst of that mess. And a few times, I did feel like Zoe Saldana had a convincing Nina ‘spirit’ – like when she sings the classic ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Wild is the wind’. But I think this is a hint – biopics are always biased and/or loosely disappointing. Stick to the documentaries…


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