4 items from 2015
It’s been in a banner year for South African filmmaking. “Hear Me Move”, a film that marries traditional South African moves with Western dance, has been screened at festivals around the world, and was a box office hit in South Africa. “The Endless River” received massive critical acclaim, including a breakout role for newcomer Crystal Donna Roberts. Tebogo Malope’s “For Love and Broken Bones”, where a ruthless debt collector falls in love with the wedding planner he’s supposed to collect from, made huge waves on the film festival circuit. Now comes “Ayanda and the Mechanic”, the coming of age story of an entrepreneurial young woman desperately hanging on to her late father’s memory while »
- Martine Jean
"After the radical, frigid and well-received Beauty (2011), young director Oliver Hermanus creates another study of obsession, this time about the fine line between victimhood and blame in the midst of a vendetta," begins Diana Dabrowska, writing for Cinema Scope. "Once again set in present-day South Africa, where racial tensions have hardly receded since the time of apartheid, The Endless River unfolds in three chapters, each of which is assigned to one of the major characters: Gilles (Nicolas Duvauchelle), Percie (Clayton Evertson), and Tiny (Crystal-Donna Roberts)." » - David Hudson »
★★☆☆☆ Some linguistic determinism is at work in Oliver Hermanus' The Endless River (2015), a leaden-paced South African melodrama about the repercussions of a horrific crime. Percy (Clayton Evertson) has just been released from prison after serving four years for armed robbery. He is met by his loyal wife Tiny (Crystal-Donna Roberts), a waitress at a gas station diner. They live with her fiery Aunt Mona (Denise Newman) who is frankly sceptical of Percy's stated intention to reform and become a good husband. Meanwhile, Gilles (Claire Denis regular Nicolas Duvauchelle), a Frenchman arrived in South Africa with his young family, strikes up a friendship with Tiny at the restaurant where he goes to eat.
At home with his children and wife, there is an air of tension at the dinner table, and in the light of this, it is apparent that the flirting with Tiny is indicative of some dissatisfaction at home. »
- CineVue UK
Oliver Hermanus has a gift for telling stories through faces — complex arcs of hurt, guilt and longing silently emergent in the expressions of protagonists and bit players alike, and patiently observed for effect. It’s this fine-grained command of implicit narrative that balances the riskier melodramatic gestures of “The Endless River,” the South African writer-director’s potent, provocative and muscularly beautiful third feature. Fusing brute realism with heightened, fable-style irony in a study of two heartsick souls drawn together by violence and loss in a sleepy corner of the Western Cape, “River” is, admittedly, a less disciplined affair than either of Hermanus’ previous films, “Beauty” and “Shirley Adams.” Its blood-streaked brand of devastated romanticism, moreover, will prove polarizing. Still, this is a substantial transitional work from South Africa’s most vital new filmmaker in over a decade.
2011’s “Beauty,” an exquisite reflection on repressed gay desire in the Afrikaner community, »
- Guy Lodge
4 items from 2015
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