A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
“A World Apart” was written by a woman who grew up in South Africa in the 1960s, while her parents were involved in the anti-apartheid movement, and it is very much a daughter’s story. Even though her parents were brave and dedicated, their child still nurses a sense of resentment because she did not get all of the attention she felt she deserved. “A World Apart” is both political and personal - a view of a revolutionary as the middle-class mother of a normal 13-year-old girl.
The girl’s name is Molly (Jodhi May), and the film opens with episodes from her typical childhood in an affluent white South African community. She takes ballet lessons, she is picked up after class in a big American convertible piloted by her friend’s mother, she attends the usual birthday parties and splashes in a neighbor’s swimming pool.
The only thing unusual about her life is that some of her parents’ friends are black, and in white South Africa in 1963, that is very unusual indeed.
Her parents are the Roths, Diana and Gus, and they are involved in a lot of activities she knows nothing about. One night her father comes to say goodbye to her, and the next day he is gone, having fled the country one step ahead of arrest on charges of communist subversion. Her mother stays behind, works for an anti-government newspaper and moves in left-wing circles. A law is passed authorizing the government to detain anyone for up to 90 days on suspicion of subversive activities, and Diana (Barbara Hershey) is one of the first to be detained.