As far as movie genres go, you could do a lot worse than music biopics. In fact, music biopics have an unusually strong track record. Ray, Love & Mercy, Walk the Line, Amadeus, Straight Outta Compton, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and I’m Not There are just a sample of great biopics about talented musicians.
While this particular genre of movies delivers more often than not, there are a few unfortunate misfires that pop up from time-to-time. On the subject of misfires, it’s hard to find one worse than Nina.
The movie has had a toxic reputation since it was announced, so putting it on a list of most disappointing movies might be questionable. However, the idea of a Nina Simone biopic done well is exciting.
Simone was a fascinating person, so while most were expecting this movie to fail, it’s still easy to get excited about a look into Simone’s life. Somehow, the movie was somehow worse than people were expecting. In fact, it’s one of the worst music biopics I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing.
Saldana’s casting was controversial from the start, and the choice to darken her skin was even more controversial. The makeup and prosthetics that were used on Saldana made her look like a cartoon character.
No matter how good of a performance she delivered, it would have been hard to take her seriously. So when you sit through the film and see Zoe Saldana’s distant, half-hearted performance, things become even more disappointing.
The part of Simone’s life that the screenwriters chose to look at is perhaps the worst part of the movie, and that’s saying an awful lot. There are a lot of great stories to tell about Nina Simone, and this isn’t really one of them. What’s worse is that a large chunk of it is fabricated. The movie deviated from Simone’s life so much that her family chose to disown the project.
Along with the questionable storytelling, the movie also paints a weirdly negative picture of Simone. It’s true that people get frustrated when a biopic makes the subject out to be some sort of angel, but this is not the Nina Simone that we’ve heard about for years. The Nina Simone portrayed in the film is a demented alcoholic who prefers aggravated assault to playing music.
If you’re looking to learn about Nina Simone, there aren’t any good biopics about the legendary artist. Your best bet is to check out the Oscar nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone. That does the singer justice, unlike this monstrosity.
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