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REVIEW: Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux

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to Lizelle de Klerk en Anna- Mart van der Merwe


FLYING HIGH: Mannetjies le Roux (Roberts)

DIRECTOR: Paul Eilers
CAST: Laurika Rauch, Annamart van der Merwe, Ian Roberts, Elton Landrew, Wilhelm van der Walt, Lizelle de Klerk, Steffie le Roux, Ilse Oppelt
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes


Let me come clean from the start. I have to confess that I didn’t like the musical which got this ball rolling. Live audiences did and I heard reports of nightly standing ovations.They’re going to stream to this one.

So I almost slipped into the theatre with a negative stance yet was pleasantly surprised. Because it was a musical on stage, I assumed it would be one on screen. That wasn’t so and quite a relief, because much of the problems on stage were especially with the musical format.

It’s the peculiar story of two siblings, the one who has an affair which kickstarts a dramatic set of events. Written by Afrikaans singer Laurika Rauch’s songwriting husband Chris Torr, it is also driven by the music of which the movie title is a possible calling card. Rauch fans will know the origin immediately and react to the carrion call. What Torr has done is to write a story that backlights the song.

Cleverly they have put together a stunning cast led by Afrikaans screen darling Annamart van der Merwe, Ian Roberts (not sure about the hair, and not quite convincing in the most crucial scene of his character when speaking to his wife) and Elton Landrew, you couldn’t ask for anything better. The young man Wilhelm van der Walt has also segued nicely from stage to screen although the lass, Lizelle de Klerk had more trouble. She needed stronger directing.

Much of what bothered could have been edited more sweetly, like when she wakes up and walks to the window, with a smile on her face, or yawns four times in the process of waking up. It might happen in real life but it doesn’t work on the wide screen.

Eilers who was also responsible for the stage production, came up with a much-improved production even though there are still some real obstacles especially for an emotionally unattached audience who might be making use of the English subtitles.The music dominates in some instances to the point of being a music video rather than a storytelling device.

Torr’s songs and Rauch’s musical ability aren’t in question, it’s the way it is applied here. More subtlety would have done the trick. Eilers has told the story in the manner of an art movie, slow and sometimes ponderous, but it works well in most instances.

Again much can be fixed with editing (which perhaps was the most worrying element) for example the arrival of Landrew’s almost mythical veld clown whose appearance reminds too much of Paljas and a similar character. His presence integrates much better in the rest of the movie with the expected star turn from Landrew who did much to bolster the stage production as well.

In the end, it’s not a bad effort at all and many will be intrigued by the story and the telling. But Eilers should relax now. It feels, throughout, as if everyone is just trying too hard instead of simply serving the story and letting it all go.

It’s a bit like the feeling you have that someone told the designer the 1970s were all about brown, so it was taken literally, it’s the only colour that exists. Life just isn’t like that and one has to allow for that. It’s that comfort and confidence that’s lacking.

If you liked Paljas or Roepman, you will like this one.

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