Why critics are calling the new Nina Simone biopic a racist disaster

The new Nina Simone biopic out this week, “Nina,” took 11 years to get made, and when it finally did get underway, reports of infighting and accusations of racist casting ultimately cast long shadows over the film even before it was out.

But now critics have actually seen the movie about the life of the legendary musician told through her latter years, and things have gotten even worse.

With a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has been written off as an unmitigated failure.

Here are the reasons why critics are saying you should stay far away from “Nina.”

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone was a thoughtless choice.

RLJ Entertainment

Zoe Saldana ('Avatar') darkening her skin to play Simone did not go well with fans or the Simone estate who saw it as racially insensitive.

When Saldana tweeted Simone's inspirational words after being cast, Simone's estate shot back: 'Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.'

'The fact of the matter is that, at this point in time, it's impossible to watch 'Nina' without hearing those words ringing in your ears,' Indiewire wrote in its review of the film.

'It also felt more than a little contrary to what Simone stood for as a symbol of black female power whose music and personal aesthetic paid loud, proud homage to her African heritage,' Uproxx said.

It doesn't help that there's an Oscar-nominated documentary on Simone currently on Netflix.

Peter Rodis/Netflix
'What Happened, Miss Simone?'

You can chalk this one up to bad timing, but many fans of Simone, or just curious cinephiles, were wowed last year with the release of the Liz Garbus documentary 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' With her life fresh in their minds, critics can't help but compare the two.

'Her ups and downs were covered thoroughly in Liz Garbus' 2015 documentary 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' 'Nina,' on the other hand, eschews its subject's complexity in favour of a standard, sanitised biopic, and is much poorer for it,' Entertainment Weekly wrote.

Putting the scandal aside, the movie just isn't good.

RLJ Entertainment

'Focusing on Simone's late-life relationship with a younger nurse-turned-manager provides a perilously shaky foundation from which to consider her legacy, and that's just the first of many major miscalculations,' Variety wrote.

While TheWrap simply calls the movie 'a new low for the musical biopic genre.'

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