On a cold afternoon during the Apartheid era, an aging "Brown" couple arrive at the Swartkops mud flat near Cape Town. They are scavengers rousted out of their shanty town that morning by Afrikaners. They've walked all day carrying what they possess. She may be alcoholic, he's prone to anger: earlier that day, he beat her for something she didn't do. Over the next 12 or 15 hours, their relationship goes through a storm, partly as each remembers earlier events both happy and tragic, and because Lena, over Boesman's objections, takes into their camp an elderly Xhosa tribesman, a Black. Boesman is cruel to the old man, she is kind, and as rain heads toward them, a confrontation develops. Written by
When you have fallen into a pit, the edge of the ground is your horizon.
An absorbing (although repetitive and rather didactic) analysis of exploitation and despair in a situation where there is no way forward or up, where the attempts to make yourself feel better by violating and putting down whoever is below you seems to be the only option. But even here, in this desolate wasteland of lost dreams and no future, that does not work, and reaching out to something or someone to comfort and share with, a simple act of charity, gives some reward, even if it just makes the present bearable by reviving memories of the past.
Although there is little actual on screen violence, this is a harsh and brutal film about the small mindedness of oppression (politically and personally) that does not make for easy entertainment. Clearly based on a play, with a small cast, a broader more expansive relation to the general social and political environment would possibly have helped the film to reach a wider audience.
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