DIRECTOR: Etienne Fourie
CAST: Armand Greyling, Leandie du Randt, Marga van Rooy, Ian Roberts, Grethe Fox, Marko van der Colff
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
WHILE the trailer suggests a teenage love story, there is more to this quirky Afrikaans fantasy than meets the eye. Expanding his award-winning short film, writer/director Etienne Fourie has used the feature film format to give his actors a chance to flesh out their characters, but has stuck to the same basic story.
The opening scene drops you mid-sequence into the world of Hendri (Greyling), an endearing teenager with a singular take on life, schooled as he is in the ways of the world by a mother who tells him his father has been abducted by aliens, rather than simply explaining the man has died.
The film is a journey of self-discovery for Hendri, who just doesn’t seem to fit in, but then again he is a teenager in a retirement village called Winterbessie Dagbreek. When Hendri is forced to relocate to his grandfather’s old age home, he finds a surreal world of pink plastic flamingoes, desperately smiling gnomes, bingo and little old ladies who know a lot about plumbing.
He also finds a host of eccentric characters at the retirement home, but is most intrigued by the young Margo (du Randt), his neighbour Tannie Marietjie’s (Van Rooy) mysterious grandchild who teaches ballet. Then there’s Miggie (Fox), an intriguing old broad who seems to have decided to take life by the balls and shake it with all her might, and the dignified doctor Rossouw (Roberts) who is always cautioning his friends to be more circumspect.
It is once Hendri sneaks out at night to spy on some of the oldies swimming in the dam that things become kinda weird… in a wonderful way though.
He starts to hang out with Margo’s young friends as he tries to figure out his place in this world and the meaning of it all.
Amid the hyper real imagery and quirky details, a story emerges that grapples with the complex issue of getting old and dealing with loneliness. It also points out how you can never recreate the vividness of the first time you experience a sensation, yet that is something you spend your adult life chasing.
While Hendri isn’t obsessed with death, there is a touch of Harold and Maude (1971) at work in the storyline here, and Marga van Rooy creates a poignant character as the old woman trying to teach Hendri to appreciate what he has right now and to live life to the full.
All this emotional discovery takes place against a backdrop of some spectacularly detailed images – not quite the overt CGI of Die Ongelooflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom, but more the stylised, slightly mischievous world-building of Wes Anderson.
Die Windpomp is a vibrant, entertaining (subtitled) film that doesn’t use slapstick to make you laugh or melodrama to make you cry; it simply tells a story of two people who fall in love.
Even when it gets a bit fuzzy on some of the chronology and the nitty gritty plot elements, the human element still keeps your attention focused on the people.
If you liked Amelie or Harold and Maude you will like this.