Movie review – A love letter to home and family

2010-10-01 12:20

Love is not a simple emotion. Often the things and the people we love most are full of contradictions and ugliness.

With this in mind, Revel Fox’s film, Long Street, is a love letter to the city of Cape Town.

Films are often deeply informed by their locations – Paris Je’taime, for instance, or Salaam Bombay! – and Long Street’s inner circle of family turmoil is inextricably situated within the outer circle of the topography of the Cape.

A young singer, Sia (Sannie Fox), struggles to beat her heroin addiction and pursue her musical career because she is tempted by her druggie ex-boyfriend and battles with aimlessness and teenage angst.

A kindly photographer and a veteran singer (the late Busi Mhlongo) do their best to help her while her lapses of lifestyle take their toll on her parents (David Butler and Roberta Fox) whose relationship begins to fall apart in the wake of her mental and moral decay.

Informed by an intensity that comes from the story being based on director Revel Fox’s own family crisis, Fox further casts his own daughter and wife in the roles of themselves.

In contrast to the turmoil within the family, Fox takes the action into locations of natural beauty – primarily on the slopes of the mountain in the residential areas of the Gardens (where Fox lives) and Tamboerskloof.

Besides contrasting angst with nature, the method also serves to highlight the alternatives open to Sia. Beyond a life of clandestine short-lived highs, there is a possible future of fulfilment in a world of music.

The Long Street of the title – progressing, straight as an arrow, down Cape Town’s spine, from homes to harbour – is a conscious symbol for Sia’s journey and a further placement of her story within the context of Cape Town itself and the city’s music scene.

Intimate and personal, the film is a love letter from the director to his daughter, to his wife and to the city in which he lives.

In an age where films are swamped with virtual reality, it comes as a breath of fresh air to find a film so intent on reality and honesty.

Perhaps not quite a southeaster, but the wind that blows through the film blows loose personal cobwebs and in so doing shares experiences with a wider circle.

» To read reviews of Tyler Perry’s new film Why Did I Get Married Too?, Despicable Me and Ramona and Beezus, see 7 in City Press on Sunday, October 3

 

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