WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Sunitha aspires for what is not expected of her. She has to dig deep with a new resolve and confidence to overcome familiar cliches and introduce new lifestyle choices in a traditional community and rise above her father's expectations to become her own woman.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
It’s safe to say that South African cinema has reached a level where you can’t forgive bad locally produced films anymore - we have seen how good we can be and that should raise the bar for any local movie lovers. Deep End, unfortunately, does nothing to help raise that bar, instead opting for an obtuse script with no cohesive centre, editing done by what seems like a first-year student and the horror that is Greg Kriek’s American accent. You keep thinking things will get better the further the movie progresses, but all that you’re left with is some pretty drone shots and Kriek’s shiny muscles.
Set in Durban, a young (?) Indian woman is set to start her life after university, but instead sets her eyes on learning how to surf. One problem though - her father vehemently opposes the notion and instead is set on fixing up an arranged marriage. In the mix is a disgraced American surfer trying to hide from the world on South Africa’s beaches.
I don’t even know where to start with this movie. The concept was a good beginning - the only one - and would have made a cool story to watch, if someone else had made it. Instead, we have a woman that’s finished university but acts like she’s in high school (and everyone around her), a stupidly stereotypical American that could have easily just been a pro SA surfer and, for a movie about surfing, is seriously lacking in great surf shots.
At some point, you wonder if the writer has a) ever met a woman and b) knows anything about the surfing world, and the script is made up of a whole bunch of threads that lead to nowhere. Why does her dad hate surfers? We are met with a throwaway sentence that is never revealed in any climax. The romance side also has no natural progression - it goes from Kriek’s character stalking the lead to them falling madly in love in the space of two scenes. Not even romcoms have this kind of momentum.
As for the acting, it’s just across the board terrible, including the casting choices. I don’t know how old Kriek is but he looked like a 40-year-old trying to be ‘one of the cool kids’ with his mopey guitar and apparel that screams “look at how American I am, in case you couldn’t tell by my gaudy accent” and had zero chemistry with our poor lead. Carishma Basday looked lost most of the time, and no one around her was good enough to help her find her way.
I also never thought the token ‘white person’ was a thing that would make me angry. Deep End proved me wrong with the whitest white girl that ever white girled.
I always encourage people to go out and support local cinema, but there’s a limit. Deep End somehow managed to have taken a million steps back not only in substance, but also in quality. If you’re really desperate for a South African Indian movie, then rather just wait for the new Kandasamys movie.
*This film review was updated to clear up any confusion. A previous version of this review stated: "editing done by a first-year student". The reviewer of this film meant that the editing looked like it was done by what seems like a first-year student. Mandy Roberts, who edited the film, has worked on several films including Verraaiers, Mooi Rivier, Serpent, and Ontwaking. We hope this clears up any confusion.