Talking Movies: Angeliena, Save Sandra and The Bright Side

Spling reviews Angeliena, Save Sandra and The Bright Side 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 comedy drama, a medical drama and a coming-of-age drama.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


After a string of life-changing revelations, a beloved parking attendant chases her dream of traveling the world.

Writer-Director: Uga Carlini

Stars: Euodia Samson, Colin Moss and Thapelo Mokoena

– Inspired by Amelie, Angeliena has a penchant for decorative trinket box sentimentality, adopting a colourful, kitsch, innocent, playful, sweet-natured and crowd-pleasing feel.
– A tale about self love and finding beauty in the most unexpected places, Angeliena’s naive tone and styling reduces its characters to caricatures.
– While Angeliena’s storied face speaks to the rigours of a tough life, Angeliena is a hopeful, plucky and other-centred woman played by the versatile and generous Samson.
– Operating in this lightweight yet heartfelt dimension with a sprawling and stellar cast, Angeliena’s focus is on simple fun and pure escapism rather than picking at the seams.
– The unicorn-friendly film’s style over substance approach keeps it easy-going in spite of flirting with some heavyweight themes around unfulfilled dreams, disease, injustice and corruption.
– The rainbow colour palette and diverse casting reflects the film’s South African flavour and Madiba ideals.
– While hinting at deeper socio-economic disparities, Angeliena is more focussed on entertainment, empowerment and hope than trying to wield an overt political commentary.
– As a modern fairy tale, it has flair and while this breezy charm and novelty store sparkle works, its superficial handling doesn’t accumulate enough of an emotional investment to pluck heart strings when it really counts in the wobbly third act.
– Carlini’s led by heart and passion, delivering a charming, entertaining, kaleidoscopic and lightly enjoyable watch compelled and constrained by the duality of its fairy tale ambitions.

A flat 5 on the splingometer!

Moving on to film now screening at the European Film Festival…


Doting parents are given the shock diagnosis that their only daughter has roughly one year to live.

Directors: Jan Verheyen and Lien Willaert

Stars: Sven De Ridder, Darya Gantura and Rosalie Charles

– Save Sandra is a Belgian medical drama in the vein of Lorenzo’s Oil, a family portrait in which desperate parents do everything in their power to access a life-saving experimental drug to treat their daughter’s rare disease.
– Based on a heartbreaking true story, this slick dramatisation offers a touching and visually-compelling rendition of events as the parents escalate their Save Sandra campaign to a national and eventually international level.
– While it takes a bit of getting used to, interspersing eclectic stop-motion animation to depict Sandra’s fairytales as told by her father, this helps soften the film’s clinical aesthetic for something more textured and symbolic.
– We are drawn into the emotional devastation and rising suspense of dealing with a disease such as metachromatic leukodystrophy and the pressures of the family’s obsessive quest to petition big pharmaceutical companies by way of the media.
– While sleek, this David vs. Goliath drama is grounded in reality thanks to earnest performances, including some surprisingly mature work from young actress Rosalie Charles.
– A powerful story, the pensive drama does its best to avoid tipping into melodrama but as noble as it is, cannot escape the tearjerker label.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally another film now screening at the virtual European Film Festival…


A stand-up comedian’s life changes when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Co-Writer and Director: Ruth Meehan

Stars: Gemma-Leah Devereux, Siobhán (Shevaun) Cullen and Karen Egan

– Led by an unflappable and deeply committed performance from Devereux, the spirited drama journeys with a woman whose self-destructive tendencies take on a whole new dimension when she’s confronted by life-altering breast cancer and the rigours of chemotherapy.
– Carrying the same moxie, determination and lead performance power of Wild Rose, The Bright Side’s independent spirit shines through as a young woman tries to navigate the challenges of undergoing treatment when she’s already living on the edge.
– Honest, gritty and full of pluck, the film’s smoothed over by artful cinematography that immerses us in Kate’s brave new world.
– Taking her raunchy stand-up based on racy Bridget Jones’s Diary style experiences, this filters into the comedy drama as her new circle of cancer patient friends try to support one another.
– The Bright Side covers a lot of ground, moving nimbly between scenes.
– Starting with flair, latching onto the vibrancy of its lead and delivering an entertaining, funny and even touching tale of coping against all odds, The Bright Side continues its search for optimism at all costs veering from her darkest days to new found inspiration.
– While quite bolshie and headstrong, The Bright Side’s equally intimate and vulnerable making for a drama of great contrasts and heart.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

ANGELIENA… this colourful, fun, flamboyant, sweet-natured and stellar South African comedy drama is undermined by thin characterisation and tinsel treatment… A flat 5!

SAVE SANDRA… earnest performances and a powerful true story override melodramatic tendencies in this sleek and stirring David vs. Goliath medical drama… A solid 7!

THE BRIGHT SIDE… while fleeting, a brave lead performance and elegant cinematography empower this gritty, honest, intimate and spirited comedy drama… A solid 7!

For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit

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