Life, Above All
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Just after the death of her newly-born sister, Chanda, 12 years old, learns of a rumor that spreads like wildfire through her small, dust-ridden village near Johannesburg. It destroys her family and forces her mother to flee. Sensing that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth. Life, Above All is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl (stunningly performed by first-time-actress Khomotso Manyaka) who fights the fear and shame that have poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A well-meaning but ploddingly earnest after-school special..."
‑ Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
"There is less in-your-face grit in Cape Town-born director Oliver Schmitz's vision for this film than there is a careful pacing of somber revelations."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"A gripping African drama about a child who has to grow up too fast, who has to keep her family together and alive, and has come to terms with the AIDS stigma that her neighbors place on them."
‑ Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"The location settings are more compelling than the filmmaking, but the subject matter and the effective presence of young Khomotso Manyaka perhaps make this worth seeking out for those who are sympathetic to its subject matter."
‑ John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
"An imperfect attempt at addressing the continued reluctance of sub-Saharan societies to address the HIV plague in their midst."
‑ Marc Mohan, Oregonian
""Life, Above All" earns the tears it inspires. The film is about deep human emotions, evoked with sympathy and love."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"In such a bleak story, the redemptive ending seems rushed and unconvincing, but director Oliver Schmitz has sent us a timely dispatch from a forgotten corner of the world that is honest above all."
‑ Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Art with heart."
‑ James Plath, Movie Metropolis
""Life, Above All" is an incredibly sad movie that never relies on sentimentality, and is as clear-eyed about the story as its forthright young heroine."
‑ Rob Thomas, Capital Times (Madison, WI)
"Life, Above All is 100 minutes of grief and courage. The film shows how South Africans failed to accept and deal with the reality of AIDS. It's a provocative and depressing plot."
‑ Tony Macklin,
"Perseverance is the theme of "Life, Above All," a drama that is deeply affecting, if also overwhelmingly bleak."
‑ Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic
"This is a heartening story of resilience told without false uplift. It is hopeful without being mawkish, realistic but not oppressive."
‑ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"...there's an undeniable fierceness and intelligence in Manyaka's lead performance. She's far from a polished actor, but there's real steel there."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"What makes it bearable but also beautiful and stirring is the central performance by the preteen, first-time actor Khomotso Manyaka."
‑ Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle
"Manyaka brings grace and empathy to everything Chanda does, eliciting sympathy and understanding in spite of the movie's own awkwardness."
‑ Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
More reviews for Life, Above All on Rotten Tomatoes