Talking Movies: Fiela se Kind, Evelyn and Back to School

Spling reviews Fiela se Kind, Evelyn and Back to School as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a South African drama, a documentary and a reunion comedy.

Starting off with a film now on circuit…


A woman is separated from her adopted child when government officials attempt to reunite him with his biological parents.

Writer/Director: Brett Michael Innes

Stars: Zenobia Kloppers, Luca Bornman and Wayne Smith

– Dalene Matthee is known for her novels about Knysna’s forest people and Fiela se Kind is her most well known story, originally adapted to film by Katinka Heyns
– recently there’s been renewed interest in her work, culminating in this reimagining under Brett Michael Innes who showed his capabilities adapting Rachel Weeping into Sink
– driven by a soulful performance from Zenobia Kloppers, an in-the-moment young Luca Bornman and great casting, Fiela se Kind is a heartfelt and spirited drama
– contrasting the arid Karoo with the lush forests of Knysna, the film has a sprawling feel, really owning the distance and wide open spaces
– the period details anchor it in another age where time moved more slowly and nature was more intertwined with man
– those who know the story will find it worthwhile revisiting this tale with a fresh-faced cast and sleek cinematography
– it’s easier to simply roll with the straightforward storytelling based on the quality of the visuals, sincerity of performances and overarching themes
– Fiela se Kind is a polished effort, but tends to play it too safe, hinting rather than confronting issues
– dividing the primary focus between two locales, playing quite long for a 2 hour film and ending on a shaky ellipsis, it’s not without its flaws
– for the most part, its a compelling and wistful real-life parable, comfortable weaving between dry dustlands and dank woodlands

A solid 7 on the splingometer

Moving on to a documentary now on Netflix…


Following his Oscar-winning The White Helmets, Orlando von Ein-siedel turns his camera on his own family as they attempt to cope with a devastating loss.

Director: Orlando von Einsiedel

Features: von Einsiedel, family and friends

– Evelyn is an unconventional yet special documentary from a director who has built his career reporting from conflict zones
– instead of being physically vulnerable, he turns the camera around to become emotionally vulnerable as we journey with him and his family over a week’s expedition
– for more than a decade after his passing, the family have tried to cope without even mentioning his name
– in an effort to bring healing, Orlando curates this emotional reunion to celebrate his brother’s life and grapple with painful memories
– hiking some memorable paths around the United Kingdom, the documentary is made up of photographs, home videos and footage of their expedition
– a brave undertaking, this family share some of their most intimate memories, discussing their impressions and how the news of Evelyn’s death broke
– interacting with strangers they meet on the path, it’s a beautifully human experience in sharing as family and friends join them in reminiscing
– breaking through the pain, dealing with pre-existing tensions and trying to find solace in talking about Evelyn, this is a heartbreaking and cathartic documentary
– the breathtaking landscape and act of walking and talking give Evelyn a hopeful outlook, even if the tears flow steadily
– its a touching film about grieving, which could serve as some comfort to those who have gone through something similar

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a French comedy now streaming on Netflix…


Eager to flaunt their success in front of old bullies and teenage crushes, two best friends spend a wild night at their middle school reunion.

Directors: Remy Four, Julien War

Stars: Ludovik Day, Jérôme Nie and Nicolas Berno

– Back to School is a cheeky and upbeat exercise in wish fulfillment as two buddies turned business partners try to reframe their bad school experiences
– school reunions serve as a great opportunity for comedy and Back to School thrives on before-and-after contrasts and mistaken identity
– while the French language and culture give it a fresh spin, it’s essentially a Hollywood take on reunions
– re-engineering nerd and jock stereotypes, it’s a hoot to see this playful comedy poke fun at these classic rivalries
– Back to School is goofy revenge-fuelled fun with adults behaving like kids and a few modern twists to spice things up
– there are a few clever moments, but for the most part it’s happy to revel in petty victories and takedown triumphs

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

FIELA SE KIND… while it tapers off and is a bit long, it remains a lush, well-acted, wistful and multi-faceted period drama… A solid 7!

EVELYN… a bold, emotional and picturesque journey into dealing with reawakened grief and forgotten memories… A solid 7!

BACK TO SCHOOL… lightweight comedy hijinx with wish fulfillment add up to some goofy fun in this reunion comedy… A satisfactory 6!

For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!