Movie Review: Mense van die Wind

Mense van die Wind is a coming-of-age music drama romance from writer-director David Schröder starring Armand Aucamp. The tender film journeys with Louw, a former glory singer-songwriter, who returns to his hometown in order to process his grief after the tragic death of his girlfriend, Karien. Retreating to the family farm, now run by his sister and brother-in-law, an old flame and past pains resurface as the musician seeks healing and inspiration.

This is a feature film debut for David Schröder, who uses the opportunity to craft a compelling story about missed opportunties, mentorship, mourning and finding the right encouragement to begin again. Opening with a turning point, the performing artist ironically finds himself at an all-time low, artfully conveying the emotional turmoil of the man’s overwhelming anguish and guilt. Schröder has a great sense of story flow, allowing the melancholy to seep into every scene, expressing Louw’s struggle in the film’s feel and tone. While teetering on the verge of becoming overly sentimental with an unlikely friendship, Mense van die Wind’s invigorating altruism and hard-fought hope overrides any misgivings.

Aided by a fine performance from Aucamp, arguably a career best, Mense van die Wind’s wistful spirit is embodied by the actor without capsizing into melodrama. The sombre atmosphere grounds this touching drama, expressing a sense of disillusionment many will be able to easily identify with, providing some timely contact points for Louw’s journey of healing. Aucamp offers a well-balanced and self-assured performance, ably supported by Diarni Gernandt, Ramey Short, Greta Pietersen, Renier Basson, Nieke Lombard and young Juan de Wet. A debut for de Wet, there’s a heartfelt intuition and sincerity to all of the performances.

mense van die wind movie

“Mnr. van Lier? Call me Louw.”

The storytelling remains captivating as we rise and fall with Louw as he slowly overcomes his mental blocks. Bold enough to veer off the beaten track of feel good, Schröder composes a soulful drama using music to open hearts. Leaning more into the terrain of Once, the music remains intimate and gently rousing, rather than going for the full Hollywood treatment. Tapping into the same music romance drama dimension of John Carney’s other films, Mense van die Wind accesses the same warm, nostalgic, earnest and ultimately uplifting space. The music isn’t overpowering or even a central focus really, opting for a subtle and realistic approach.

Set in and around Ermelo, Mpumalanga… the picturesque rural backdrops contrast beautifully with the claustrophobic, smokey inner city music venues. While character-driven, the cinematography remains nostalgic and unobtrusive, allowing the drama to unfold without distraction. Giving almost every interior a soft glow, the looking-back concept remains strong as Louw grapples with a difficult parental relationships. In our self-centred age, it’s also refreshing to see how the outworking of the lead’s decision leads him to become more other-centred. Pushing the story forward in every moment, Schröder demonstrates his full grasp without overextending his reach.

Leveraging the talents of his actors, unfurling a thoughtful screenplay, feeling his way through scenes and offering restrained, sensitive direction, Mense van die Wind is a controlled and promising feature film debut for Schröder. While housing many competing subplots and a fantasy element, this coming-of-age music drama romance manages to streamline without feeling coerced. Decidedly slow-moving, Mense van die Wind isn’t in a rush to get to it’s happily ever after… content to sink into the character’s struggle and make the resolution all the more rewarding.

The bottom line: Stirring