The personal approach makes it messy and unfocused but also provides energy and value
Yunus Valley grew up in a small Afrikaans town in South Africa before moving into bigger cities as an educated young man. Taking his lead from works cataloguing the sexuality and nature of black men, Yunus decides to explore his society threw the presentation and identity of white women. Using his own personal experiences, background and predilections to guide his exploration.
This film is at once an examination of a culture and society where race was the single biggest division in the land but yet also a personal affair as Yunus uses interviews with his own former girlfriends to try and deal with his subject. This is a strength and a weakness within the film though. The strength is that the film is driven by passion for the subject and the value of seeing things through the perspective and experiences of another. This engaged me as it gave more of an insight than a straight documentary would but the problem is that this approach also makes it rather scatty and untidy. It doesn't help that the subject of the film is not really that well defined and that it does rather ramble across itself at times.
The subject it tackles is to do with racial identity and how it has been shaped by cultural etc influences and Yunus is a good funnel through which to do this. Of course by taking this approach it offers a limited perspective into the subject and those looking for an investigation may well be disappointed because this is very much more of an opinion. Yunus himself is actually pretty good as a presenter of the film, borrowing some elements of Errol Morris's filming technique to make the interviews a bit more personal and intimate. He doesn't totally convince with what he is doing, perhaps because he was too close to his subject and the passion he felt took away from the film in some ways but mostly he leads it well a good personality at the head of a personal film.
It is far from perfect as a film though. It is too untidy and lacking a central focus and for the casual viewer it is hard to be sure quite what we were meant to come away with. However the personal approach of the film does also work in its favour, providing some central point in Yunus himself and injecting a passion for the subject that does go some way to offsetting the messy structure. Worth a look for a personal discussion on race but doesn't really do the wider subjects justice.
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