Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fanie Fourie's Lobola (SIFF 2013) - Movie Review

Fanie Fourie's Lobola is a heartfelt comedy from South Africa that was written and directed by Henk Pretorious. Eduan van Jaarsveldt, Zethu Dhlomo, Jerry Mofokeng, and Marga van Rooy all star in this delightful tale of people from vastly different cultures who manage to fall in love despite everything working against them.

On a dare made by his brother, the ever reluctant Fanie Fourie gets up the nerve to ask out the first woman to walk in the store they are in and that woman fortunately, turns out to be the beautiful Dinky Magubane. Only after she agrees to the date does Fanie realize that he may be in over his head and not just because he is now going on a date with someone he himself would say is way out of his league. To complicate matters, he is an Afrikaans man which doesn't necessarily mesh well with Dinky's Zulu background.

Oddly enough, the paid hit it off and before you know it, they are dating and falling love while, all around them, the world is conspiring to keep them apart. With family members on both sides at odds over this unlikely pairing, the duo also have to deal with cultural, economic, and societal differences that could end up keeping them from being truly happy together. Fortunately, true love tends to win the day and Fanie decides he needs to get to the root of their problems by invoking an age old Zulu tradition called Lobola which is basically a financial offering that, if accepted, will allow him to marry Dinky once and for all.

There are certain movies that you just know you will enjoy and there are others that come out of nowhere to surprise you with you lovable and entertaining they are. Fanie Fourie's Lobola could actually fit both of these categories as I figured from watching the trailer and doing a little research that this would be a fun movie, but I was still not prepared for just how impressive this movie is both as a comedy and as an emotional love story.

Henk Pretorious seems to know exactly what this movie should be both as a writer and as a director and he delivers perfectly from both sides. The comedy is smart, witty, and doesn't rely on bathroom humor or bargain basement jokes to entertain. At the same time, this movie will tug at your heart in so many different directions, you'll have a hard time figuring out whether you are crying from laughter or raw emotion.

All that being said, this movie doesn't work if the two main characters are not perfectly cast and whoever picked Zethu Dhlomo and Eduan van Jaarsveldt to play Dinky and Fanie deserve some serious props. From the first moment you see Dinky on the screen, Dhlomo makes sure you fall completely in love with her and, while Fanie is intentionally much more mundane, van Jaarsveldt manages to balance the ordinary with a likability that is undeniable. When the two are on the screen together you honestly and truly believe they are meant to be together.

Fanie Fourie's Lobola is a mainstream movie that will unfortunately never be seen by mainstream audiences, at least in the United States. If you can find this gem of a movie or run across it online, please take the time to watch it, I promise you won't be disappointed.


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