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All the planets align for this one.
FILM: South African movies, like all others, are hit and miss, but when they get it right, they do it well.
Katinka Heyns is one of our finest filmmakers, and perhaps because she has paid her dues in the past – and possibly because of a passion for her subject – she really seems to get it right with this one.
Don’t be dissuaded by the title; it’s Afrikaans because Eugene Marais was an Afrikaner, but the movie includes subtitles – as all local films in any language but English should.
What you get is a story of a Renaissance man (who also had a drug addiction which determined much of his life) who allowed his heart to wander.
With author Chris Barnard as scriptwriter, they circled a specific part of the scientist’s life to give an idea of who he was, instead of reaching much wider and losing the personality of the man.
It’s a wise choice and best serves Marais, whose life’s work caused ripples around the world.
Another bonus is Heyns regular Koos Roets, who is a painter, when it comes to making beautiful pictures.
And, of course, the extraordinary cast. Dawid Minnaar is an exacting Marais and turns in a performance which is as measured as it is masterly; he breathes life into an enigmatic man.
He’s surrounded by star power in the form of Sandra Kotze, Cobus Roussouw, Elize Cawood, Erica Wessels and Marius Weyers, with a few rising youngsters also making a mark.
It is a truly magnificent effort from everyone involved and deservedly puts Marais’s extraordinary life and work under a microscope in a similar fashion to his field work with anything from ants to baboons, all brilliantly sketched on film.
SPECIAL FEATURES: none. – Diane de Beer