Happiness is a Four-Letter Word

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Renate Stuurman, Mmabatho Montsho and Khanyi Mbau in Happiness is a Four-Letter Word (Ster-Kinekor)
Renate Stuurman, Mmabatho Montsho and Khanyi Mbau in Happiness is a Four-Letter Word (Ster-Kinekor)


Happiness is a Four-Letter Word




3/5 Stars


This local film, based on the novel of the same name by Cynthia Nozizwe Jele, tells the story of three friends trying to find their happiness while maintaining images of success and acceptability. The story revolves around perfectionist lawyer Nandi, glamorous housewife Zaza and trendy art gallery owner Princess, who seem to be living the new South African dream: money, success, and loving partners. The three friends juggle life's surprising changes as they come to learn that ?happiness doesn't come with a manual'. The three will have to find out what truly makes each of them happy and then fight to get it in their unique way.


Romantic comedies are a relatively untapped genre on the local movie front. There have been some hits (Ayanda), almost hits (Tell Me Sweet Something), and some misses (Between Friends).

There's a very fine line between telling our own relatable love stories and simply regurgitating Hollywood ideas by giving it a local setting.

The latest offering, Happiness is a Four-Letter Word manages to tick all the right boxes. 

The characters are compelling and warm, the story is relatable and the production is of good quality.

Based on Cynthia Jele's award-winning novel of the same name, it follows the lives of three besties, Nandi (Mmabatho Montsho), Zaza (Khanyi Mbau) and Princess (Renate Stuurman) who are in search of happiness in the City of Gold.

Career driven Nandi is about to get married but gets a case of cold feet when an old flame reappears. Zaza is the trophy wife who engages in an extramarital affair while her husband is away on never-ending business trips. Princess is a gallery owner who's afraid of commitment. She lets her guard down and falls for the wrong kind of man.

Together the three women support each other through the ups and downs of life. 

The trio had wonderful chemistry; their friendship came across as believable and real.  

In fact the actresses did such a great job at bringing the characters to life that I immediately read the book after seeing the film, because I wanted to know more about them. 

While each actress excels in their role it is Khanyi Mbau who steals the show. Her raw emotion and vulnerability is captivating to watch.

The film is not without its flaws though as it drags at times and towards the end it becomes cliché wrought with too much sentimentality.

Overall the story, the cinematography and the acting take this genre a step into the right direction. It's a definite must-see that will be a good bonding experience for girlfriends. 

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