Nommer 37 tells the story of a paraplegic man Randall (Irshaad Ally) and his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman) who play a risky game of cat and mouse when they blackmail a powerful criminal called Lawyer (David Manuel) while evading a sadistic loan shark Emmie (Danny Ross).
Nommer 37 is a brave and bold directorial debut by Nosipho Dumisa, who admitted in conversation that this wasn’t how she’d envisaged her first feature film.
She and her creative partners at Gambit Films made the important decision throughout the film to not allow it to descend into poverty and gangster porn, even though the two themes are present and vital to the story.
Randal finds himself in a sticky situation after taking the risk to move from small-time criminal activities to bigger, more elaborate schemes and loses his friend and the use of his legs in the process.
A loan from the sadistic Emmie is his way out, but things go horribly wrong, with Randal finding himself wheelchair-bound and trapped in the second floor flat he now shares with girlfriend Pam.
The film was shot on location in a number of different locations in Cape Town, which allows the film to feel realistic. The small, borderline derelict flat gives the viewer that sense of being trapped, which Randal feels in the flat.
The fact that they live in a flat that’s not wheelchair friendly amplifies the magnitude of the reality that being poor and having a physical disability almost guarantees that your dignity will be eroded.
The image of Pam trying desperately to keep the household running, with the little that she makes, is something that many of us are familiar with.
Rockman gives an endearing performance as Pam, that tough-as-nails coloured woman who is fiercely loyal, but feminine as well.
Her portrayal reminds us of a type of woman we all know, be it a neighbour or a friend, who gives love and loyalty even when the recipient doesn’t deserve it.
Sandi Schultz as detective Gail February makes you want to believe in law enforcement again.
In her quest to investigate the death of her crooked work partner, she ends up being drawn into saving Randal and Pam.
At the crux of it, Nommer 37 is a story about greed, loyalty, love and redemption. It allows the stories of people you wouldn’t ordinarily know of to be told, in a way that’s not awfully sensational. It’s a story of how the ordinary and honest can easily find themselves drawn into a life of violence and crime.
My only qualm was the levels of violence in the film. Otherwise it is a very watchable film.
Nommer 37 in currently showing in cinemas nationwide.