WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Based upon the book written by local author Leon van Nierop, and the 1980's TV series it spawned, this drama focuses on the mysterious disappearance of celebrated writer Jacques Rynhard (Armand Aucamp), and the investigative hunt for him launched by journalist Carina Human (DonnaLee Roberts). Christia Visser, Rolanda Marais and Jacques Bessenger co-star.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The well-known theme song from the popular Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling brings with it a tsunami of childhood memories. Although I can barely remember what happened on the TV show, I do remember evenings in front of the TV with the family while the song unintentionally became an anthem of being blissfully lost in my youth.
Homework books scattered all over the carpet as the smell of mom’s cooking hung in the air. At the end of a busy day this was where it all came together. Where drama, comedies and horror tales were shared all whilst the mystery surrounding Jacques Rynhard’s disappearance played itself out on the small screen behind us.
Now, so many years later, it’s back. And like the characters in the feature film I too have grown up and moved to the big city where I now work in a busy media office. The irony of which immediately made me smile.
Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling the film has to do in two hours what its TV precursor luxuriously did in 13 episodes. It’s at this point that I take off my hat to director Quentin Krog who managed to successfully complete the task at hand without breaking the tension and suspense surrounding the popular storyline.
The film’s success is boosted further more by two distinguishing factors. Firstly by the absolutely jaw-dropping cinematography – the likes of which I have never seen in a local production. Tom Marais deserves all the praise that comes his way. The smooth and creative jumps from past to present and from one scene to next transports the viewer from the city streets to the train tracks without any effort whatsoever.
The second contributing factor is the cast. Not a single Afrikaans pop star in sight as the main cast is made up of stellar actors who know how to dig deep and deliver raw and real performances that will leave you with a lump in your throat. Each and every one of them is so comfortable in their character’s skin that you can’t help but get pulled into the drama, twists and unexpected turns.
Three actors really stood out for me. Christia Visser’s young Lena reminded me of the lead actress in some kind of indie subtitled French movie I once watched. She gave an energy to Lena that was both unexpected and absolutely delightful to watch. Rolanda Marais gracefully continued Visser’s work as her depiction of an older Lena helps the viewer to fall even more in love with the story that unfolds in front of you. Lastly it is the handsome Armand Aucamp’s breakthrough performance as writer Jacques Rynhard that gives the film its romantic hero it so rightfully deserves.
Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling has officially raised the bar for all local productions and it will be hard in future to accept anything less than this. I had almost forgotten how beautiful Afrikaans can be and this film artfully, tastefully and oh-so-romantically reminded me of it. Viewers can rest assured that the legendary TV show from the past has been brought back to life in the most beautiful way you could possibly imagine.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: