ON CIRCUIT FROM 1 JUNE 2018 | Review by Michelle Ashburner
The excitement was palpable, in the main generated by the Nommer 37 movie cast and support staff as the press milled around waiting for the time to wander through into the cinema. Soon the lights went down, and the Gambit Films logo (executive producers) came up on screen, followed by the Kyknet logo and credit was given to M-Net, XYZ Films and the DTI for their involvement. Next in the centre of the darkened screen was Nosipho Dumisa’s name, the scriptwriter and Director of the latest Afrikaans movie that is on circuit from tomorrow.
The brilliant, real and gory opening scene sets the tone for the movie. Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally) a small-time gangster borrowing money from a “heavy” loan shark, Emmie (well played by Danny Ross) for a drug deal that is meant to set Randal up and get him out of the Cape Flats. The next setting is Randal, now in a wheelchair is helped by his friend Warren and his long-time girlfriend, Pam (played by Monique Rockman, a new face in the SA film industry) up the stairs to their apartment where most of the movie takes place. Hendricks, embittered by his new status in life and the loss of his friend Lester, who helped him with the drug deal that went wrong, sits in his wheelchair stuck in the apartment watching the world around him through a pair of binoculars. Emmie and his side-kick eventually find Randal in his apartment and threaten his life, as well as Pam’s. Randal of course scrambles to find the money to give back to Emmie. From that point in the movie, things naturally start getting intense with twists and turns that kept me sitting on the edge of my seat right to the very end.
The reality of life in the Cape Flats burgeons out of every scene in Nommer 37, and nothing is spared to show rather than tell of the dysfunction that seeps through the plot. The smallest detail is covered, and emotions are laid bare in the heavy-hitting scenes. At I was covering my eyes, but soon looking back to see what happens next. My feelings were so invested that I swung between the logic of knowing the consequences of decisions would be very real for Randal, and liking him, wishing he would get a break and succeed in getting away scot-free. However, just as in life it was not to be, and Pam who just wants Randal to do things the right way and in essence an innocent bystander is caught in the crosshairs (I said it was real-to-life!). So does Warren (Ephraim Gordon) their friend who helps them and at the same time unknowingly “pimps” on them. My favourite piece of cinematography was the scene (and I won’t give away the story here) where you see the genuine shock and dismay on both Randal and Pam’s face through the window that Randal stares through every day.
When the lights came up again, still reeling with emotion from the last act of this film, I felt compelled to stand and applaud. At last, a South African movie I think is world-class in every way – the actors were superb, the plot was outstanding, the end perfect. There is a warning for the squeamish – this film is real, both in the scenes shot and the language, so if these things will cause you to knock the movie then don’t go and watch it because it is worth every award I am hoping it gets. All involved certainly deserve to sweep the boards with it!