Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For Love & Broken Bones (PDXFF15) - Movie Review

For Love & Broken Bones, directed and co-written by Tebogo Malope, is an official selection of the 2015 Portland Film Festival. This South African drama stars Mduduzi Mabaso, Lerato Mvelase, Desmond Dube, and introduces Mashala Letsoalo as Thabo.

The Story:
Motheo (Mebaso) is a man who makes a living as a debt collector in a small South African township while also playing trumpet in a band that specializes in performing at funerals. Refilwe (Mvelase) is a struggling wedding planner who is doing everything she can to take care of her son Thabo (Letsoalo) and keeping him out of trouble. The two end up meeting under unfortunate circumstances and Motheo must make a decision that will not only change the path he has been on, but could also have a profound impact on how he views the world they are all forced to live in.

The Review:
One of the things I really love about watching movies at film festivals is finding hidden gems from other countries and indie film makers that would never otherwise have a chance to find an audience here in the states. Tebogo Melope has created a film noir experience that is filled with very well thought out characters, a backdrop of societal hardship, and a stunning visual style that gives it a very raw yet polished feel. To me, this film looks and feels like the work of a seasoned pro and would stand up to just about any similar type of domestic release. While the film draws inspiration from many different sources, I wouldn't want to try and make direct comparisons as this is truly an original work meant to show a side of life in South Africa that is very unique and yet unfortunately universal.

I really have to make a special mention of the two lead actors in the film, Mduduzi Mebaso and Lerato Mvelase as their performances are so good both individually and as they play off of each other's strengths. Their ability to draw you into their characters is a key to why this story plays out so well and they are able to represent a very distinct contrast in personalities, lifestyles, and ideologies. Whenever Melope puts the two together in a scene is where the real magic happens and you can't help but get lost in the struggle. Also, special shout out to the young and very talented Mashala Letsoalo who plays Refilwe's son as a boy determined to become a man as quickly as possible.

The Verdict:
For Love and Broken Bones was a really nice surprise put together by a truly talented cast and crew and I hope lots of people get to check it out. This is an emotionally powerful story that is beautifully shot and features strong performances from a great cast. Job well done.


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