Director: Kagiso Lediga
This film is one of Netflix’s international ventures. With other international films I was so annoyed with them that I did not even want to blog about it, because I would feel too evil to write what I actually think. But, this film was a very refreshing experience and I liked it.
The story is centred in South Africa, and the main character is Max Matsane, portrayed by Kagiso Lediga himself. Max is a writer and an English teacher. As I have always wanted to write a novel, I am always very interested in films that portray lives of writers, and the way they deal with writing process and life in general. In this particular case, Max published a very successful book but he has not published in a while, so he just teaches English. This brought financial problems so we get to see how he and his wife deal with it. In addition, we get to follow their social life, full of funny remarks on how people always get impressed with economists and not writers, etc. Nevertheless, the film has elements of a comedy, with Heiner moving in with Max and his wife and turning their lives upside down.
Aside from the comedy, the film also nicely portrays life in South Africa after the fall of apartheid and there are some interesting debates on the previous and current social and political system. I particularly enjoyed Max’s criticism of Heiner (Andrew Buckland), a writer who comes to visit his homeland and speaks emotionally about being white South African. Max comments to his friend how he finds it interesting to listen white liberals talking about liberation of Black people, whereas they run away to Australia when it did actually happen. On the other hand, Heiner speaks about walls and lack of security in South Africa following the fall of apartheid, and thus we get to understand both perspectives on why people leave the country, but also how Black people see the situation in the country now. Another memorable moment from the film is when Max tells his wife he finds it strange that white people were hiding behind big fences after the change of regime, only to get out and take control of all fancy restaurants and charge too much for a meal. This clearly showed his worry about the future of Johannesburg and his issues with gentrification, and what the future will bring. In addition, we see how white students get treated on campus and how they negotiate their South African identity, as well as how they work and collaborate with their black colleagues.
A very interesting film. It is somewhat slow, and it would be better if it was an hour and a half long. But, I really felt like I am there in a few moments of the film, and I liked the way it portrayed social life and a life on campus. Very refreshing and different.
Thank you for reading.