I Dreamed of Africa

Year: 2000
Director: Hugh Hudson
Cast: Kim Basinger, Vincent Perez
All the hallmarks of a telemovie with a conscience, one of the last stops for veteran actresses on the B-grade decline, and it's been a long time between drinks for Kim Basinger (in her last serious role - as the Veronica Lake lookalike hooker in LA Confidential - she looked old and tired, and was mostly an object of derision in 8 Mile).

Similarly, Vincent Perez looked like he attempted to make it into the Hollywood mainstream. After the sweeping (but European) grandeur of Queen Margot he tried to crack the big time with the first (fairly bland) Crow sequel, and hasn't done much of note in the English speaking world since.

Structurally, the film is more a quilt of happenings than a story. There's a strong feeling and you leave one event for the next that all it's telling you is that 'in Africa, this can happen, then that, then that.'

As a story though (made justifiable being a true story), it tries to be light and lovely but ends up a miserable dirge of death. After serious injuries in the same car crash in their Italian hometown, Kuki (Basinger) and Paolo (Perez) fall in love and share their dream of living in Africa, so pack up and go there to take command of a run down ranch to live with Kuki's young son.

They all grow together, and over the course of the next ten years we're treated to the beauty of the country and the brutality of lion attacks, streetside robbery, poachers, car accidents and fatal snakebites. Kuki's final spiel, that living in an extraordinary place has exacted an extraordinary price, seems to be the point, but it does nothing to alleviate the godawful misery of watching a woman lose her husband and then her son.

Comparisons to Out of Africa are inevitable, and at times it's just the same (but without the unending supply of wine).

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