Rom­com fiz­zles in­stead of siz­zles

CityPress - - Trending - GRETHE KOEN grethe.koen@city­press.co.za

It’s a pity rom­coms aren’t taken se­ri­ously as a genre, as if peo­ple just don’t give movies with­out vi­o­lence or dis­turb­ing con­tent the same con­sid­er­a­tion. It says a great deal about our bi­ases as an au­di­ence.

It was with this in mind that I went to the screen­ing of Akin Omo­toso’s latest love story, Tell Me Sweet Some­thing.

There were a few things I loved about the movie. Firstly, it’s a love story be­tween two black peo­ple (which is not some­thing you see very of­ten on the big screen) and, se­condly, it all plays out on the streets of Joburg. In­stead of be­ing gritty, dirty or vi­o­lent, it’s all bright lights, ped­alling bikes and fash­ion­able young­sters milling in cafés. Imag­ine all the cool kids you see milling around Mabo­neng on a Satur­day, and you’ll have an idea of what Tell Me Sweet Some­thing looks like.

Un­for­tu­nately, those were the only two things I liked. The film suf­fered some se­ri­ous pac­ing is­sues, and just felt like there wasn’t enough go­ing on to fill the screen time.

Although lead ac­tress Nomzamo Mbatha was like sun­shine to watch, her lead­ing man, Maps Maponyane, was another story. Maps, I’m so sorry, but your act­ing needs work. His char­ac­ter is a male model who wants to prove he’s more than just a pretty face – ba­si­cally, he plays him­self. And he doesn’t even pull that off. The wooden de­liv­ery of lines was cringe­wor­thy.

While Thembi Seete is a comic tal­ent with act­ing chops, her char­ac­ter – a pink-haired bookshop as­sis­tant – was too much like so many other air­head as­sis­tants I’ve seen be­fore in count­less Hol­ly­wood movies.

There were some clever cul­tural ob­ser­va­tions by Omo­toso I ap­pre­ci­ated. One is where Maps stands in front of two white tal­ent agents at a model cast­ing, dressed only in a leo­tard and headdress, while they fawn over his “cho­co­late skin”. It’s such a clever yet funny look at the fetishi­sa­tion of black men. I re­ally wish there were more of these in­sider gems in the film.

I am glad to see South African cin­ema (that isn’t Afrikaans) tak­ing a turn to­wards more light-hearted fare, but this isn’t the movie that will ce­ment the genre. Tell Me Sweet Some­thing comes off as telling us, well, noth­ing.

LOVE­STRUCK Nomzamo Mbatha was like sun­shine, but Maps Maponyane’s act­ing needs a lit­tle work

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