Lana, Adrie, Vivian, Diona and Nixie are very different women. Everyone thinks they are the dynamic and strong women that society expects them to be, but each is in some way broken by life’s challenges. At the start of the movie we see their daily challenges creating internal struggles, and they are just treading water in their own way.
While they try to keep their lives together, they meet at a weekly self-help group that offers little relief as a result of their refusal to let down the self-imposed walls that seemingly protect their vulnerability and grief. It’s not long and the self-help group suggests adventure therapy, and before they know it, they find themselves on the Orange River where their busy city life is exchanged for a world that swings between silence and wild. In the silence, everybody begins to experience the “noise” of their problems. The hard and merciless natural environment emphasizes how broken these women feel, it forces each of them to deal with her own hidden, self-centered intentions and expectations.
You know as the viewer, that something has to happen and the underlying friction between the women leads to a terrible moment when the boat, the guide and the women are thrown into the river and disappear into the rapids. The women find each other on the banks, but their guide is missing and without knowledge of the river or nature, they are left to fend for themselves that night. When Guy does not show by the next morning, they come to the shocking realization that they are on their own and that they need each other.
As with all good hero stories, each of the characters finds herself as well as her strengths. Some emotional scenes where disclosure to the others leads to liberation and intimacy, and this cleansing has every woman experiencing herself in a new way.
The film hosts some recognized faces and also new talent. I enjoyed each performance because the characters were seamless. I found it difficult to tell the actress and the character apart and so give kudos to the actresses for their performances. I can not say much about the guide, his character had a small role to play, and he did not really have a chance to show off his talent.
At this point, the storytelling stops to avoid spoilers, and I tell you how much I enjoyed this Afrikaans “chick flick” movie. As an English-speaking South African, I have developed a sincere appreciation for the Afrikaans way of telling a story. It’s subtle, not over the top and real. The gentleness and compassion for the fractured parts in every woman will not fail to touch even the most hardened female heart – we cannot help but recognize ourselves in these women. The storytelling is honest and straightforward, and for this reason, I can applaud another Afrikaans film this year.
17 FILMS, THE FILM FACTORY and KYKNET
present an IVAN BOTHA film
written by IVAN BOTHA, DONNALEE ROBERTS and SEAN ROBERT DANIELS:
with: DONNALEE ROBERTS, SIMONÉ NORTMANN, CHANELLE DE JAGER, ILSE KLINK, CARLA CLASSEN, ARMAND AUCAMP