Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
A perfect night in with EE
Win £200 to spend on the perfect night in
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Pierce Brosnan
Maynard Eziashi
Edward Woodward
Beatie Edney.
Directors
Bruce Beresford.
Screenwriters
William Boyd.
Running Time
102 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Sixteen
3 Star Empire Rating
Broken Horses
3 Star Empire Rating
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream Alliance
3 Star Empire Rating
Jauja
4 Star Empire Rating
Exit
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
Sweet Smell of Success
5 Star Empire Rating

Mister Johnson
Beresford fails to do Joyce Carey's novel justice.


submit to reddit


Plot
In 1920s West Africa a naïve clerk attempts to be more English than the English.


Review
Colourful costumes and sunny plains: yet another addition to the Heat And Dust and White Mischief school of filmmaking, this depressingly manipulative movie is set in 1923 West Africa and tells the story of one naive soul whose delusions about himself and his place in the colonial world eventually lead to tragedy. Mister Johnson (Mayard Eziashi) is black, but he wears an expensive white suit and is very proud of his job as Chief Clerk to the British District Commissioner (Pierce Brosnan).

Regarding himself as 'English' for reasons which are never made clear, he loses his new wife because of the money he owes her father and then gets the elbow at work when he becomes the scapegoat for the underhand use of government funds to build a new road. However, refusing to let circumstances get the better of him, he keeps bouncing back with a supposedly winning smile and yet another smart get ahead scheme.

It fails abysmally because of the grinning shallowness of Eziashi's portrayal and, secondly and much more crucially, because the role he's been lumbered with is a demeaningly cheerful stereotype of the kind that should have gone out with Uncle Tom's Cabin. As the good Brit on the sidelines, Brosnan's Commissioner in short khaki trousers is pitched with an equal lack of success as the best side of colonialism ("When you've made a road, you know you've done something.") and comes complete with a prim and proper wife who doesn't like living in the Bush. The fact that she isn't played by Greta Scacchi is this acutely embarrassing film's only real surprise.


Verdict
Based on the 1939 Joyce Carey novel, Bruce (Driving Miss Daisy) Beresford's stickily condescending film attempts to present Mr Johnson as an object both of pity and of admiration.


Reviewed by Tom Tunney

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Fast And Furious Franchise's 7 Most Insane Stunts
In ascending order of madness...

Empire's Fast & Furious 7 Review
We run the rule on the return of Toretto, Hobbs and co

Empire Meets Alison Brie
The Get Hard star on Ken Jeong, Toto and her favourite episode of Community

17 ‘What The?’ TV Cameos From Film Directors
From Spike Jonze as a music exec to Peter Bogdanovich as… himself?

Empire Meets Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
On A Second Chance, Game Of Thrones pranks and Headhunters' poo scene

The Secrets Behind 44 Classic Cinema Sound Effects
No really, the Ringwraiths are actually plastic cups...

The 30 Greatest Superhero Movies Of All Time
Empire readers pick their top super flicks

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)