Thanks to Emmanuel, who’s becoming the S & A go-to guy for mixed race actresses with career issues – Ethiopian/Irish actress Ruth Negga has become the hot topic lately (HERE). So I wanted to see her 2011 BBC bio-pic, Shirley, about the early years in the life and career of British singer Shirley Bassey.
Bassey never really became a big household name in the U.S., but in the U.K. she’s a legend. And not really knowing a lot about her past life, except she had a hard-scrabble childhood, I thought the film would be interesting and would give me a look at Negga, since, although I’ve heard of her, I haven’t seen her in anything up to now.
Well lucky for me and you I did find the entire film online in 4 parts, which I posted beloew. It’s only 70 minutes so it won’t take up much of your time; but thererin lies the main problem with the film.
Because of its brief length, it’s pretty superficial and glides quickly over most of Bassey’s early life. You can obviously tell that’s there’s a lot missing, and what is there is not done with a lot of subtlety.
You don’t really get any real insight into Bassey, except that, at first, she was very nervous and unsure of herself, and then very quickly became cold and driven, although still with moments of self doubt. The film should have been a three or four hour mini-series just to begin to get a grasp on her.
And yet, despite the film’s limitations, Negga is quite remarkedly good in the film. She’s quite striking looking, and especially strong in the second half, where Bassey, deluded by the instant fame and glamour, becomes unbearingly full of herself.
There’s an intense, manic quality in her performance that is quite riveting. It’s just too bad the film ends, just as it’s getting really good.
But still it’s worth taking a look, believe me.
(NOTE: I was unable to post Part 2 of the film here, so you’ll have to go to this link HERE to see it before continuing on to Parts 3 and 4 below):