Picks and Pans Review: Cry, the Beloved Country
This terribly sad movie, filmed in South Africa and based on Alan Paton's famous 1948 novel, serves to remind us that James Earl Jones is more than a large man whose resonant diction makes him ideal for voice-over work. He's a superb actor. Here he plays a poor country preacher forced to journey into Johannesburg to rescue a wayward sister fallen into prostitution. He plunges into a far greater tragedy when his son, who also disappeared into the city years ago, is arrested for murdering the son of a wealthy white man (Harris) during a robbery.
It's a fairly routine piece of moviemaking, although John Barry's slow, lulling score (which doesn't sound much different from the one he did for 1985's Out of Africa) is a plus. But Jones is flawless as a good man struggling to shoulder the awful weight that God has inexplicably dumped on his shoulders. Shaken by tragedy, weeping with gratitude at the smallest kindness, he is infinitely touching. (PG-13)