Picks and Pans Review: A Good Man in Africa

updated 09/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sean Connery, John Lithgoiv, Colin Friels, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Louis Gossett Jr.

This clumsy film, set in a mythical West African country, pays only sporadic attention to the title personality, a polished and principled Scottish physician played with customary urbanity and vigor by Connery. Instead the movie focuses on Friels, a vaguely addled middle-level official in the British Embassy. Friels dutifully bounces from his black African mistress to Whalley-Kilmer, wife of the country's charismatic presidential candidate, Gossett. But the comedic possibilities of the role are beyond Friels.

Director Bruce Beresford vacillates. There is near farce, centering on Lithgow as the pompous British ambassador. And there is harder, edgier political satire in the portrayal of Gossett as an opportunistic schemer trying to profit from his country's need for development. At one point, Gossett's political opponents stage an uprising; the revolt generates sound and fury but precious little enlightenment. When Connery is written out of the story, the movie collapses like a pricked balloon. (R)

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