Four Corners

Films To Watch: Four Corners

27 April of 2014

By: Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig)

Film: Four Corners (2013)

Director: Ian Gabriel

Cast:  Brendon Daniels, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Irshaad Ally, Abduragman Adams, Jezriel Skei

Watch the Official Trailer

Perhaps I’m a little too interested in having “a good story to tell” because the first thing I did after I saw the poster for South Africa’s Oscar nomination was sigh in exasperation. I thought Jerusalema, Tsotsi, I-Number Number, Jozi and now this: the latest in a long line of internationally acclaimed local films on South African violence. And in particular, violence perpetrated by people of colour.

Nonetheless, I decided not to let my politics prevent me from watching what has been called the first film to tackle the 100-year war between the Cape Flats’ 26s and the 28s. It was a complex one. Not only was this the story of a former-28-general-father (Brendon Daniels) reuniting with his chess-prodigy-turned-reluctant-26-gangster-son (Jezriel Skei)  combined with a who-dunnit theme where the good cop (Abduragman Adams) rats out bad cop; this was also the story of a young British trained doctor (Lindiwe Matshikiza) who returned home to the flats to rediscover her roots after the death of her father and the story of a bereaved 26-gang-leader (Irshaad Ally) avenging his younger brother’s death.

Although the threads converged neatly in the end, in the words of The Hollywood Reporter, the movie was “overwrought “. I like to call it a “pizza-burger”, because it had a little too much going on and could have done with fewer storylines, leaving us to enjoy the each story line for its own merit.

If I am to leave you with “a good story to tell”, I must say that the characters were well developed, and the actors expertly depicted the brutality and violence of life on the Flats. More importantly, they brought to life the moments of triumph, tenderness, joy, vulnerability and even humour. And perhaps it was this depiction of complexity of human nature, which we so often forget when we hear stories of gang violence, that was the most important achievement of this film.

Keen for some further reading? Try this: African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen By Lindiwe Dove


Photo Credit: Peter Magubane (Courtesy: Baileys African Archive)


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