Movie review – A little film with a big SA story to tell

2013-04-28 14:00

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We have very few prominent directors in South Africa, and Darrell Roodt is probably the most recognisable.

From Sarafina! and Yesterday to Cry, The Beloved Country, Roodt has made his name.

But after a slew of misses, including Stilte; Number 10; the highly rated but poorly constructed TV series Room 9; and the controversial film that South Africans may never get to see, Winnie, his star has waned.

Now he’s released maybe his most controversial piece to date, the rape drama Little One.

The film tells the tale of Pauline, played by Lindiwe Ndlovu, a woman living in a squatter camp, selling sweets on the side of the road at a train station.

She finds a little girl, played by Vuyelwa Msimang, after she’s been raped, beaten and left for dead. This begins Pauline’s emotional journey with the child, from medical care to hunting the perpetrators and ensuring she gets proper care.

The story is touching. It is also very current and meaningful in a country torn apart by rape. But attempting a film about such an important topic is difficult.

I haven’t been able to ask Roodt questions like how he prepared to tell such a tragically unique South African story, or who he interviewed and how he researched the subject matter of his film.

But, if the slapdash acting, directing and scripting are anything to go by, it would seem Roodt made it up and hoped for the best.

When I commented that I disliked the film, I was told I should focus on the message and not on the package. But that’s nonsense.

Films have to tell good stories well to touch people, they are not public service announcements.

Add to this the fact that the message, which seemed so important, is largely skated over. The rape, which should be the focal point of the film, is largely ignored after a few key scenes.

The excitement of finding those responsible is forgotten and only mentioned in passing, with an “oh, we found them” moment. Little One means well and has, at its heart, a very important story to tell, but this is not the definitive film on child rape and it will battle to find an audience.

Film: Little One (UIP)

Director: Darrell Roodt

Featuring: Lindiwe Ndlovu, Vuyelwa Msimang, Mutodi Neshehe and Thuli Msimang

Rating: 5/10

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