Director: Mzokuthula Gasa
Starring: Siphiwe Mtshali and Enhle Mbali
Available on Showmax
These are times when good films and television shows are important.
Showmax has bolstered local offerings and given South African talent a shelter.
Continuing with its original content, which has included The Girl From St Agnes, Trippin with Skhumba, Tali’s Wedding Diary and Grassroots (a co-production with 1Magic), viewers can now see feature film uHambo, loosely meaning “a journey” or “travelling”.
We applaud the effort to fund a local feature, which is by no means an easy feat, but the film’s plot is lacking in so many ways.
The actual story and character arc are janky, with people speaking to one another in a robotic way.
The imagery is South African telenovela style. They throw in a drone shot or two, but even that trick can’t pull the viewer out of how boring this story is and how uninspired the director’s imagination is.
The whole approach reeks of “just shoot it”.
Come on, man, choose an interesting location, something visually stimulating and unique – don’t just slap a story together; the audience is not made up of fools.
The creators do, however, nail the nature of Vusi, played by Siphiwe Mtshali of Rhythm City fame.
He’s a slick-talking taxi driver from the hood who uses his front seat charm to win the affections of attractive passengers, even though he is set to marry Zoleka (Enhle Mbali).
This is accurate and well researched, and shines a light on how callous and cavalier local men get around the idea of monogamy.
Zoleka wants Vusi to elevate himself by moving to the suburbs and leaving township life in the rear view mirror.
For the driver, the culture of the streets is appealing and so too is the chance to meet side chicks. Things go wrong when he is embarking on an early evening rendezvous with a passenger he met in his taxi.
The sex scene might be the height of excitement in this film. Her husband arrives and finds them in the act.
Vusi scampers away, but the husband empties a clip in him, and now he finds himself in the land of the dead. The only person who can help him is a nyaope addict who sees ghosts.
Movies with a small cast usually mean the writing is tight enough to make it work. But it doesn’t when the writing is as lax as this.
Mbali is a decent actor, but this was light work for her. They hardly challenge her in this role.
By the time we eventually meet the nyaope head with ancestral gifts, you will be fully conscious of the fact that you are watching the local version of a Lifetime Network movie – a straight-to-TV movie.
This was hard to finish and, despite the leading pair’s best efforts, this is a project best kept on the shelf.