Ahead of the release of “Collision” this Youth Day, I had a chat with Vuyo Dabula, Langley Kirkwood and Tessa Jubber, the three leads in the fast-paced action thriller.
The stories, which run parallel to one another, eventually collide on the eve of South Africa’s first Freedom Day celebration.
Given the time period, the emotional state of the characters is volatile albeit for different reasons as social, economic and cultural disparities become clearer.
Directed by Fabien Martorell, the premise sees Johan (Kirkwood) and Diana Greser (Jubber) living the privileged life of wealth and opportunity in their gated mansion.
Meanwhile, Bra Sol (Dabula) spreads his criminal tentacles on one hand while also trying to do good. Sadly, the paradoxical nature of his battle doesn’t serve him well.
The other key characters in the story include Nicki (Zoey Sneedon), the Greser’s rebellious daughter and Cecil’s girlfriend, Thando (Mpho Sebeng) and Cecil (Siphesihle Vazi).
And then there is Samke Makhoba and Pheello Kheto, who play father and daughter with opposing views on foreigners in the country.
On what attracted them to the project, Jubber wasted no time in saying that the last thing she wanted to do was to play a suburban housewife.
She explained: “Well before I got the script, I got the character description.
“I was offered the part and the part was the rich mother.
“And to be honest, at first, I thought I’m not so sure because I wanted to move away from that kind of thing.
“So I literally had promised myself no more wealthy domestic kind of stories. But when I read the script, I went hmmm, ‘There is something here that grabs me’. The dynamic between her and her husband is refreshing and quite interestingly written.
“The way the action escalates appealed to me. I have never done an action film before.”
Of course, Dabula is synonymous with playing the baddie.
After a chuckle, he said: “What I appreciate about Bra Sol is the vulnerable sort of side.
“The innocence that comes with him.
‘He’s in touch with his family and he’s in touch with his mother in the old age home.
“Most of the time, the baddies I’ve played, you kind of meet them at the height of their ‘baddie-ness’, for lack of a better word, and I kind of appreciated seeing how not so in control he is.
In the story, viewers get to see him help uplift individuals like Cecil.
But his good intentions come with conditions. In the story, it is Cecil’s friend Thando who finds himself paying up, in a way.
“So it was kind of a treat for me to play a baddie who, at face value, when they first meet, they kind of root for him. But as the story continues, you see how messed up the guy is.”
Kirkwood added: “So what drew me to play Johan was mostly here was a tragically but very relatably flawed South African character who I was able to identify with.
“I was able to identify with him because he is the same age as him. I grew up knowing people like Johan.
“I know people like him now. And what attracted me to his journey, here is someone who has made a series of really bad choices in his life but for what he sees as all the right reasons, for what he sees as noble reasons and ultimately those bad choices catch up with him.
“He faces the decision of whether or not to come clean with his wife.
“To try and make good for all the bad choices he has made and try and find some redemption, which culminates in a really beautiful human journey.”
There are several pertinent themes in the film, which offer a hard-hitting look at racism, employment equity, interracial couples, xenophobia and human trafficking.
On what he tapped into, Dabula explained: “I think with the two characters put together, Johan and Bra Sol, they are like your regular guys. They might live on the opposite sides of town but they are similar.
“What I hope the audience takes away is that we are not so different as a society might say.
“Similarly, traditions and skin colour are different but we all have the same fears, wants and desires and you want to be able to protect and take care of your family. You want your family to be proud of you because you were there for them.
“That is basically what draws these two characters to the final conclusion of the film.”
As for how the director handled such sensitive issues, Jubber pointed out, “For me, the very sensitive issue is the human trafficking thing. That kind of got to my heart.
“To be honest, there isn’t a lot of time on a shoot like this and I think it is up to the people involved to handle the subject matter sensitively and with the gravitas it deserved.
“I mean I was struck by the scene, opening a van full of girls. It does get to you.”
Kirkwood added: “The one thing that the film really doesn’t shy away from is having an honest look at the underbelly of South African society.
“And also, what a hard place SA and the world are to live in right now. And the very real struggles that a lot of South Africans face on a daily basis.”
“Collision” will be streaming on Netflix from Youth Day.