After her father dies, Botswanan Precious Ramotse decides to sell her inheritance - 180 cows - and move to the capital Gaborone and open a detective agency. From a young age her father had trained her to develop her memory skills and she has a keen sense of observation. Business is slow, but Precious soon has a secretary, Grace Makutsi and fits in well with her neighbors. Slowly, clients begin to trickle in: a woman who thinks the man who claims to be her father - he had abandoned the family when she was just a young child - is actually an impostor; a woman who thinks her husband is having an affair - a view Grace enthusiastically generally supports since she thinks all men are liars and cheaters; and a factory owner who thinks an employee claiming compensation for an accident is scamming him. Her interest is also drawn to the case of a missing boy but she she must face a powerful local gangster to get the information she needs. Written by
A Botswana woman looses her father and inherits his fortune (180 cows, et al). In so doing she is able to start up a small local womens' detective agency - the first of it's kind in southern Africa. From a clientèle of zero she manages to build up a client base of interwoven cases.
This is the story of one woman's' dream becoming a reality. But it's much more than that. It's also about Africa and Africans, it's about change, it's about standing up to bad things, about knowing your neighbours and having a laugh along the way. Minghella has successfully created a TV film version of the much loved novel of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith. This couldn't have been an easy project so it's a delight that the film has both a polished look and a real feel for it's characters. Filmed entirely on location, the film manages to engage and entertain with a hefty dose of humour and intrigue.
Whilst a few street scenes may not exactly reflect the norm in Botswana (cream cakes that look as if they'd just fallen off the shelf at Harrods), the interwoven stories and acting, from a new African cast, more than make up for it. This sadly turned out to be Anthony Minghella's last project as director but it's clear that he passionately believed in it's material. It's rare indeed to see studios with big bucks backing a film with this kind of plot or synopsis, let alone for it to be made in Africa and with an unknown cast. The fact that it succeeds is due not only to the screenplay and success of the the novel but to the vision of maestro Minghella himself. Long may his memory prevail, and it looks like it might do with a series spin-off planned for next year.
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