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Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: In a small, remote, mountaintop primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his 80s, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance at the education so long denied—even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-old children. (Nat Geo Movies) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    May 26, 2011
    88
    I have never seen elementary schoolers more passionate about education than the ones I met at a school in rural Kenya, not far from the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    May 9, 2011
    80
    Chadwick strikes a perfect balance between humor and tragic gravity, and the result is that an unknown story seems certain to stir the hearts of audiences worldwide.
  3. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    May 20, 2011
    75
    This is potentially compelling, but truncated flashbacks are far too crude a mechanism for exploring not only the intricacies of that tumultuous period in Kenyan history but also its ongoing legacy.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    May 13, 2011
    60
    Director Justin Chadwick ("The Other Boleyn Girl") shows admirable restraint bringing this true story to the screen, and Litando does much with glimmers of emotion and wells of dignity.
  5. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    May 26, 2011
    50
    We have pretty much all the information we need within the first half-hour, which undercuts the supposedly climactic reveal of the contents of Maruge's letter and renders the torturous flashbacks unnecessary for narrative purposes. And not a little bit sadomasochistic, too – an ill fit for a PG-13 family film.
  6. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    May 19, 2011
    50
    The true story of Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge, an 84-year-old Kenyan who entered primary school in hope of learning to read, inspired this pleasant but routine exercise in third-world uplift.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 19, 2011
    38
    It's heartwarming. But the film never really takes fire.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jun 23, 2011
    10
    It was so refreshing to see this movie! It kept me wondering what would happen next and I so enjoyed the true story that was told! I am only sad that the film marketing has been so poor and also so disgusted with the big critic reviews who gave mixed reviews! It was so nice to see a movie without the Hollywood trappings for glitz and shock that cheapens so much of what is out there! I would love more movies that challenge you to care more and make a difference in this world!!! Expand

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