I suppose this is a worthy project, and because Arthur Penn directed it, the mise en scene is certainly effective. But I can’t say I liked it much. Scripted by Bima Stagg and produced for Showtime in 1996, this is a painful, harrowing tale about a leftist, well-to-do white university professor (Eric Stoltz) in South Africa. After attending an Amnesty International concert in Zimbabwe in 1988, he’s arrested for conspiring against the government, then tortured at length, psychologically and physically, chiefly by a police colonel (Nigel Hawthorne). The action moves back and forth between his ordeal, which ends with his suicide, and an investigation into his case almost a decade later, after the end of apartheid, during which the colonel is interrogated by a black official (executive producer Louis Gossett Jr.). Part of what I don’t like about this film is its punitive bitterness; perhaps it’s understandable, but it’s a far cry from the therapeutic and conciliatory aspects of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (JR)

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