Heinz Winckler in Mooirivier

Mooirivier

DIRECTOR: René van Rooyen

CAST: Hykie Berg, Milan Murray, Nadia Beukes, Heinz Winckler, Tim Theron, Anel Alexander, Leandie du Randt, Danie Putter, Bouwer Bosch, Bennie Fourie, Francois Viviers, Elmie Brits

CLASSIFICATION: PG

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)

Theresa Smith

THE LATEST Afrikaner romantic comedy from the producers of Klein Karoo falls squarely in the middle of vanilla territory.

It is a stab at Love Actually in a pretend lala-land found only on the silwerskerm.

Technically very proficient, it hits all the right notes and will appeal to that very loyal market who loved Liefling and Knysna and can’t wait for Hollywood in My Huis (which is directed by the husband of Mooirivier’s director).

Filmed in Potchefstroom, the film occupies a space where bad things like cheating or dead spouses and exploitative bosses are the worst things that could happen to you. In real life these things are bad, yes, but there are no surprises and any plot hitches are specifically used to get characters to the next scene.

Forget character growth or impossible situations which push people to become more than they already are. It is safe and bland and everything is telegraphed just in case you don’t know how a romantic Afrikaner movie works.

The Love Actually aspect is that the plot intertwines the loves and lives of various couples, including two pre-teens, in the run-up to a Easter weekend concert.

What the point of the Easter reference is, is never realised, so it could have been just a regular concert, since Heinz Winckler – who plays a minor celebrity/singer engaged to perform at said concert – could just as easily have been asked to sing at a Potchefstroom University bash or basically anything.

Hykie Berg wanders on with those sad, puppy dog eyes and immediately you know his character, Stefan, is sad because he cheated on his wife. Obviously, said wife, Amelia (Murray), has to be the perfectionist in this scenario, because why else wouldn’t she want such a nice guy as Stefan?

Since Tim Theron’s Paul character’s wife died he has to clearly turn into a sad teenager who can’t look after himself. But that’s okay, Amelia’s sister Lisa (Alexander) is clearly going to fall for him even if she is sad about not living in Paris anymore and he keeps on trying to sell her unsuitable houses.

So, sad seems to be a recurring emotion here, but then there’s cynical-about-love Marcelle (Beukes) who is pursued by ladies’ man-searching-for-more Dave Meyer (Winckler). And irresponsible Ian (Putter) will realise that he really does love best friend, the hopelessly romantic Janine (du Randt).

Anne Hirsch does make a bit of an impact as a wacky, Dave Meyer obsessed character, but that is more because of those wild eyes than anything else. Even when making a slight jab at that fey boy who always seems to be the butt of koshuislewe, the scriptwriter has done so in the least offensive way possible.

The soundtrack provides the emotional beats, but all the songs eventually bleed into one. Cinematography, editing, colour grading and small technical details like framing are all very professionally handled for a well-packaged product that has not an ounce of spice.

If you liked Liefling or Pretville, you will like this.