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…
FIELA SE KIND
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…
BACK TO SCHOOL
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!
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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!