Eintlik Nogal Baie

2016-11-04 13:06

What it's about:

Jay van Niekerk is a young, attractive and career driven comic book illustrator. Although he is advancing in almost every aspect of his personal and professional life, his one true desire seems to be the one furthest from reach. This has brought him to a crossroad in his life. Does he give up and keep fully focused on his career or does he finally open his heart to fulfill his deep longing for love and set out to meet the woman of his dreams? He wants someone funny, someone bright, who will appreciate his love of comics and embrace his eccentric lifestyle.

What we thought:

Afrikaans romances have had a semi-good streak up until now, with good production value, interesting scripts and decent acting. Eintlik Nogal Baie might have pulled off the production and acting part, but it failed miserably in the writing part. The story was the most convoluted mish-mash of romance, comedy and drama that never quite gelled together and made no sense. It tried so hard to be different to other Afrikaans romances, that it forgot why people liked them in the first place.

A popular South African comic book writer (André Lótter) that looks like a model finds out his father passed away while he was on tour. At the cemetery he meets loud free-spirit Ally (Marisa Drummond), who he bumps into again while traveling home in his dad’s vintage car. The two fall in love, but other forces aim to drive them apart.

First off, the film has a completely warped idea of comic book popularity in South Africa, making it the strangest choice for a career for their lead. The writers clearly do not have a geek bone in their body, especially for coming up with a hero like a ninja budgie. And no comic book writer looks remotely like someone who looks like they just stepped out of a Men’s Health magazine’s suit article. Then there’s Ally, who drives around in a Volkswagen Combi taking pictures for her ‘blog’ without really having any job, until you realise her family is rich. Way to go to make a woman be independent – I think you misunderstood the ‘free-spirit’ part.

Then there are these insanely long montages that cover the length of a song that will put the audience in a coma. Especially one scene where they play the most boring game of Never Have I Ever that stretched out to infinity. You pray for the next scene to relieve you of this awkward attempt at being ‘cute’. And just as you get used to the cheesy lovefest you’ve endured up till now, the whole story suddenly takes an incredibly dark turn, as if you’re suddenly watching a completely different movie. It does make you sit up, but probably not for the reasons the filmmakers hoped it would. The audience is more left with a ‘wait what?’ than ‘oh, that’s a clever twist’. 

For all its horrendous flaws in the script, the actors couldn’t be blamed for working with such shoddy material. They tried their best, and at least they all look pretty. Drummond, known for her villain role in Isidingo, attempts to be sweet, but is unfortunately working with an incredibly one-dimensional character. Lótter on the other hand, fails to be a selfish go-getter, and instead looks like a love-sick puppy. Zak Hendrikz, who plays the sauve broker, does his usual douche shtick. 

They clearly had a decent budget, as the cinematography of Eintlike Nogal Baie was really well done, with a high production value. There was also some stunning poetry spattered throughout, especially at the end, which is one of the only things that will move the audience to a semblance of an emotional connection with the characters. The other thing that saved it from a 1 star rating was one of the best sneaky jokes I’ve heard in a long time, and was so surprising and relevant in South Africa’s tense race relations today, that I couldn’t believe it came from the people who wrote the rest of the awful script.

Eintlik Nogal Baie fails to appeal to both soppy and gritty romance lovers, and its attempts at being original just results in a good-looking mess (I’m sure Pad Na Jou Hart will have some questions about ‘borrowed’ plot points). There are much better other South African movies to spend your money on. Eintlk nogal baie.

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