Movie review – Local farce loses laughs in a hail of gunfire

2011-10-28 08:45

Film: Skeem (UIP)
Director: Tim Greene
Featuring: Kurt Schoonraad, Casey B Dolan, Terence Bridgett, Kenneth Nkosi, Rapulana Seiphemo, Lilani Prinsen and Wandile Molebatsi
Rating: 5/10

Farce is the most difficult genre to get right. To do it for non-stop laughs, the timing has to be perfect and the script needs to be rigorous in a way that is believable and uproariously funny.

The best example of this is the British film Death At a Funeral – it has since been remade by the Americans with only a modicum of the original’s success. The original film was so funny that the entire audience snorted and cried with laughter from first scene to last.

That said, local director Tim Greene has a good go with his second feature film Skeem. His first was A Boy Called Twist, which he famously made with money from the general public – he convinced 1 000 people to put R1 000 into his film that updated the Charles Dicken’s classic.

Skeem is all about a pair of bumbling criminals, Richie Rick (Kurt Schoonraad) and Vista (Wandile Molebatsi), who are transporting a druglord’s cash from Joburg to Cape Town. Things go awry when their car does, and the pair are forced to take a chalet at a dilapidated holiday resort complete with dragonlady on reception and gates that lock from dusk until dawn. When they take the cash box out of the boot it breaks open – letting every motley holidaymaker at the resort get a gander at what’s up for grabs.

With the scene set it seems everyone – from the hen’s party group to the three generations of Claudes on a fishing trip, to the would-be travellers with broken motorcycles and two nuclear families, one white, one black – will do crazy things to get the cash.

The blossoming romance between Vista, a rather reluctant criminal, and Jana (Lilana Prinsen), a troubled teen, is the audience’s touchstone in the mayhem, but just about everybody else is exasperating.

If the filmmakers are to be believed, all of us are just a glimpse of a gangster’s money away from leaving the rule of law behind us. I was willing to buy it for laughs, but by the time the story has painted itself into a ludicrous corner and tried to blast its way out with guns, I had stopped laughing.

Skeem is a fair effort and a damn sight better than some of the rubbish dropped on us from Hollywood, but it misses the mark of a great farce by quite a margin. What a shame. It does, however, star all sorts of cool South Africans and Terence Bridgett gets a special mention for his take on a drug-addled enforcer.

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