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Half of a Yellow Sun, adapted from the novel by acclaimed author Chimamanda Adichie, cannot decide whether it should tell the story of the Biafran War that divided Nigeria in the late 1960s or the soapy drama of two sisters and the petty fights that force them apart. So it does both—badly. The first 40 minutes chronicle the lives of 30-ish siblings Olanna and Kainene (played by 40-something actresses Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose) and their respective partners, the revolutionary Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the calm British academic Richard (Joseph Mawle) as they squabble and cheat on each other in the Nigerian university town of Nsukka. The next 40 minutes cover the war, during which the Christian Igbos created the new nation of Biafra and the leading characters issue a détente for the good of the country. But amid the explosions and heavy political discourse, the actors can’t work with a plodding script and inconsistent tone. If you’re curious about the Biafran War, read Adiche’s book and skip the film.