Looking for Love, 2018
Signed up the 28/03/2017
Looking for Love is a South African romantic comedy that follows a young woman in her late thirties who is solely invested in her career life. This is all while the external pressures of finding love and getting married pile up, especially from her strict mother and her just-married little sister. Directed by Adze Ugah, starring the zealous Celeste Ntuli in a leading role as Buyi, the film is promoted to be one of its kind.
Women-led films always personally make me over-joyed, especially when they're local films. Celeste Ntuli is one of the brilliant actresses whom although are talented and captivating, you'd never imagine in a lead role, especially in a movie of this genre, as the pretty and perfect-sized women are ever preferred. What I appreciated about the film is that it promotes body positivity and overall self-confidence. Afterall, love isn't an experience set aside for conventionally attractive people.
This is the kind of genre that commercially appeals to a lot of people, so there isn't a doubt that there'll be a few genuine giggles in the theatre, especially when the effortlessly hilarious Ntuli graces the screen. The comedy, though, isn't as seasoned and well-executed as you'd expect from a comedy that almost exclusively compromises of real-life comedic acts. Most of the movie feels like a social experiment, merely testing comedic and dramatic waters while not actually believing that these moments would have any real lasting effects on the audience, as they're supposed to. rather than a genuine story of a young, troubled woman struggling to find her footing in this hostile, superficial world.
In fact, much of the story is muddled with genre tropes while balancing on pieces of every American romantic comedy ever. The most inspiration this film draws from is the recent American hit, Girl's Trip. The film does add some Mzansi flavour where it can, though, with inside jokes only a local audience would appreciate. The film is nothing short of comic set pieces. Some work, most fall short. Perhaps some can argue that I as an enthusiast of the motion picture art-form, my expectations are typically higher, but even the least reserved person in the room may get comic fatigue.
The film is obviously meant to be provocative, what with obscenities, vulgar dialogue and the care-free who-gives-a-damn nature of the protagonist and her larger than life best friend. It gets awkward when it misses the beats more often than it is able to engage the audience, which personally forced my eyes to roll so far back into my skull more times than I would've imagined possible in one brief sitting.
The film at its core centres around the dynamics of female relationships, whether it being a friendship, sisterhood or a mother-daughter relationship. Phindile Gwala stars as the beautiful, bodacious bestfriend, Lindi. As a serial blessee, she lives her life on the edge and isn't ashamed of who she is, where she is in life, and how she affords the comfortable, fancy lifestyle she leads. In other words she's a hustler who doesn't mind using her pretty priviledge to swindle rich and willing men whose tongues ever wag at her tail. All the while, Buyi is timid and doesn't live much of her life outside of her work, and she'd obviously never dream of approaching or keeping a man in any way.
As the adventures of these two contrasting friends unfold, we get to see just how unfair and judgemental the world can get, no matter the physicalities and social placement of the subject. Lindi is confronted by her own personal trials just as much as Buyi is, though it may never seem it at surface-level because by social conditioning pretty, lightskinned people's lives are always much more easier than those who are deemed unattractive.
Technically, the movie reinforces just how much South African filmmakers still need to learn in terms of direction, camera movement, scoring and sound, editing, colour use, etc. As it is, how the movie looks and sounds, it'd be no surprise if it were a straight-to-DVD/Mzansi Magic film, as no part of these two most vital aspects in film is cinematic, or worthy of a theatrical treatment.
There should never be evident static sound in any film that is set to be watched in a standard theater, nor should there be observable image (to the naked eye) distortions no matter the screen size the film is screened on.
As a filmmaker one of your major priorities should be the focus on setting the tone. At no point did I experience the tonal edge of the film. The dramaturgy and cinematic atmosphere wasn't set either, which made the film seem like a cut and paste of random life events from a personal phone gallery rather than a consistent comedy-drama piece made for the big screen.
Looking for Love was set to hit our local screens nation wide from this coming month, June, 2018. The release date has since been moved to August, 2018, due to the World Cup, as we were informed by the production company that the events of the worldwide sporting event conflicts with the scheduling of local cinema goers. If you're interested in watching the movie, check back here for the exact release, which is yet to be announced.
The film also stars Trevor Gumbi, veteran actress Lillian Dube, Allen Booi, Craig Urbani, Tayo Faniran, Ntobeko Madlingozi, Isaac Gampu, Keneilwe Matidze and Fadeen Mia.
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