Yesterday was nominated for Best Foreign Picture in 2005, the first ever nomination for South Africa. I placed it on my Netflix list almost immediately, but it took me a few years to get around to boosting the film to the top of my list. After all, AIDS movies get old after a while, and I've seen my fair share. That being said, Yesterday is a refreshing and simple tale about a mother who is determined to see her child get an education.
Leleti Khumalo stars as Yesterday, a single mother who has been feeling sick of late. She walks hours to see the doctor in the next village over, only to often find the line too long. When she finally gets in, however, she learns the horrifying truth: she has AIDS. As she comes to grips with the reality of her situation, she becomes determined to see her son get an education at the new local school.
The great thing about Yesterday is that its central focus is not about AIDS; the disease is simply a part of the story, as it is simply a part of the woman's life. Of course, as time goes on, AIDS become an increasingly stronger part of the story, but the movie isn't about showing the effects of the disease or about how it is killing off a remarkable person (after all, this woman is just one of millions of "unremarkable" people). It's a rare look to see the AIDS epidemic from the point of view of Africans, which is refreshing and surprisingly more personal.
Yesterday is deserving of its Oscar nomination and is a fine little foreign film from a country rarely known for its motion pictures. The quality of the movie and its direction exude a much larger budget than what is actually the case.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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