This well-acted adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel starts like a college soap opera before turning into a Nigerian Gone with the Wind. It follows the fortunes of sisters caught up in the aftermath of the country’s 1960 independence. Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose shine as English-educated twins: Both return home to play their part in nation building, only to be swept along by conflict.
This first feature by British-based, Nigerian-born playwright Biyi Bandele makes strong use of newsreel archives. But Bandele struggles to inject emotion: Chiwetel Ejiofor’s academic and Joseph Mawle’s writer barely seem worthy of the passion expended on them by Newton and Rose. Half of a Yellow Sun bravely takes on too broad a canvas with too narrow a budget, but it’s a relevant saga that’s worth telling.