Half of a Yellow Sun

Adapted from a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, this 2013 historical drama follows two adult sisters from Lagos as each suffers through the chaos and destruction of the Nigerian Civil War. Writer-director Biyi Bandele has excerpted their story from a much wider-ranging narrative, but the action here is still so tightly compressed that this feels like a precis for a movie twice its length, the political developments racing by in periodic newsreel sequences and the interpersonal drama so telescoped that you half expect a voice-over narrator to announce “Previously on Half a Yellow Sun . . . .” This is a shame, because the principal cast members (Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joseph Mawle) are quite good, and there are several terrifying set pieces (a tribal slaughter inside an international airport, a wedding interrupted by aerial bombardment). In English.