Nickolai Salcedo as Ulric Cross in ‘Hero’
Financial Times – London
by Nigel Andrews
This drama-documentary tells the story of an RAF navigator and nation-builder…
There is a devil in our heads, or mine at least, always roused to action by consciousness-raising films. “Preaching to us, are you?” the devil says with icy scorn, before unwinding the cynicism fire hoses and turning the faucets.
There is something impudent and annoying about movies that try to teach us virtue. Don’t we know what virtue is already? Yet Frances-Anne Solomon’s Hero — optional full title Hero — Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr Ulric Cross — gets away with goodness. Its style has a full-on naivety, faux or actual. The images hurtle out like comic-strip frames with matching simplified dialogue, as Solomon narrates the life of the title Trinidadian. Ulric Cross became a lawyer, then a world war hero (80 bombing trips over Germany), then a diplomat and key player in the liberation of new African nations: Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania.
It isn’t just a comic book for the education-needy. Even in the aesthetic Gatling fire of mixed techniques and sources — archive footage (sometimes colour-tinted), old photos, interviews, dramatised re-enactment — some scenes slow down to deliver a more sustained impact. Cross (Nickolai Salcedo) and his white English wife (Pippa Nixon), both fiery campaigning spirits, have fiery interchanges on the home front. And climactic scenes build a le Carré-ish web of international manoeuvre and counter-manoeuvre. They delineate the complexities that lie behind nation-building, even when some of these buildings surprise us by seeming to go up overnight. ★★★★☆
Link to article for subscribers: https://www.ft.com/film
HERO starts its nationwide tour across the UK, Oct 3, 2019. See Site for Cinemas and tickets: https://heroulriccross.com/