TV review: The Gift rocks the box

2014-12-14 03:20

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Even Julius Malema became a TV critic when a ground-breaking made-for-TV feature film called The Gift was aired on Mzansi Magic last Sunday. It almost broke Twitter.

Produced by Ferguson Films, a company powered by the creators of Rockville, actor-producers Connie and Shona Ferguson, the Christmas crime drama starred Thembi Seete and Shona Ferguson.

Social media responded to the film with an outpouring of love and rave reviews. Here was a rare thing – an authentic, captivating local film with a quality script that was matched by the performances.

Malema tweeted: “That was a good display of Mzansi’s talent.”

Ferguson plays Thabiso, a car dealership owner who moonlights by running a hijacking syndicate specialising in BMWs. Seete plays Bontle, a soapie star who has just scored a big acting break. Their marriage is not as rosy as everyone thinks, and when they decide to spend Christmas with Bontle’s family in Mafikeng, all manner of drama unfolds.

Thabiso spoils his father-in-law Ntate Motaung (Mlangeni Nawa) with a top-of-the-range BMW, which he and his upstarts hijacked from its owner. It is this gift that eventually results in murder as Thabiso tries to hide his thug life.

In a nation that deals with violent crime daily, we have too few intelligent, ­believable crime stories on TV. The explosion of the crime thriller genre in our films generally offers two-dimensional baddies, their characters sacrificed to car chases.

In The Gift, we have a well-rounded bad guy. He is the provider at home, but deep down, the charismatic, wolf-like Thabiso is insecure and is a bully who uses ­money and status to wield power with impunity. We’ve not seen Ferguson deliver such a richly dark performance before. Goes to show that maybe if you want the meaty roles, you have to produce them yourself.

Seete has continued to grow as an actress and she hits it out of the park in The Gift. The cast includes Mara Louw, Kagiso Modupe, Vuyo Dabula, Mothusi Magano and Tsholo Monedi.

By tapping into the complexities of crime and family values, The Gift resonates. Although the film will get a repeat early next year, fans have instantly called for it to be turned into a soapie or drama series.

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