Movie review – Script trips up well-acted film

2012-08-24 15:16

Film: Zama Zama (Nu Metro)
Director: Vickus Strijdom
Featuring: Presley Chweneyagae, Lindani Nkosi and Khulu M Skenjana
Rating: 6/10

With mining front and centre on the news pages, this film will probably find more audience than expected. Zama Zama, though, focuses on a different side of mining in South Africa, that of the zama zama, or illegal miners.

Malcolm (Lindani Nkosi) is a zama zama. On the day security catches up to him, he’s with his younger brother, Joseph (Presley Chweneyagae).

Malcolm manages to escape, but Joseph is caught. Fast forward several years and Malcolm now owns Ubuntu Mines.

While listening to an update about illegal miners he sees a photo and discovers that Joseph is now working as a zama in the very mine he owns. Filled with guilt and remorse for turning his back on his brother all those years ago, Malcolm disguises himself as a zama and goes into the mine to save Joseph from the raids that are coming.

When he gets down there he discovers that there is more to these men than just criminality.

They are good people trying to make a living to support their families, but are being exploited by an evil man, Manto (Khulu M Skenjana). With Malcolm’s perspective shifted, he has to try to not only save his brother, but the other illegal miners too.

It’s an interesting story with a good plot – family reconciliation, intrigue and insight into a way of life alien to most of us. The acting is also good. Nkosi gives a solid performance as the guilt-ridden brother trying to make up for a past full of mistakes.

Chweneyagae is back to his Tsotsi best as Joseph who is full of resentment and mistrust of his brother who abandoned him when he needed him most.

Even Skenjana gives an interesting performance as the disturbing Manto.

Also, a special mention must be made of the cinematography and the musical score. They are both wonderful.

The cinematography makes great use of light and shadow, recreating the claustrophobia of the mines and the singing is a highlight for me.

However, this film does falter in writing and directing.

Like so many of our local films, the script needed a lot more work.

The dialogue doesn’t always work and often feels trite and the audience isn’t given enough to get to know the characters, so when something bad happens to them there’s no emotional connection.

The directing is heavy-handed and clumsy. Some scenes were cut short where they should not have been, while others should have been shorter to have more impact.

The emotional scenes don’t have enough oomph, because the actors didn’t have enough direction.

It’s a great pity for a film that had real potential.

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