A modest tale intermittently well told, the unfortunately titled Bustin’ Bonaparte follows the lives of three children on an isolated South African farm in the 1870s. Em (Anneke Weidemann), Lyndall (Kasha Kropinski), and Waldo (Luke Gallant) slog their way through the biblical strictures laid down by Em’s stepmother, the imperiously huffy Tant Sannie (Karin van der Laag). Respite is found in the bosom of Waldo’s father, a farm manager and holy fool, performed with the requisite gravitas by Armin Mueller-Stahl. The repression intensifies with the mythic appearance of Bonaparte Blenkins—a con man with a gift for sweet talk and hellfire. Richard E. Grant plays this potential scenery chewer as a nervously uptight prick, content to nibble at the sides of the frame. The children occupy the center with thoughtful and assured performances, nailing the refreshing moral that skepticism leads the way to better truths.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 31, 2005