The winner of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in the Africa Region and the film prize at the M-Net Literary Awards in the same year has just been turned into a movie. “Happiness is a four-letter word” is based on Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name and it launched this weekend.
Career driven Nandi played by the Mmabatho Montsho, is sent into a flat spin when some unfinished business reappears just as she is about to get married. Khanyi Mbau portrays the cheating trophy wife named Zaza, who attributes he indiscretions to her husband’s demanding business schedule. And then there is Princess played by Renate Stuurman. She is the owner of a gallery who’s falls for the wrong kind of man.
In addition the movie boasts prolific names like Pabi Moloi, Hlomla Dandala, Fulu Mugovhani and Thuli Thabethe who have small supporting roles in the film.
Living up to its genre the themes that are relationship-based, and is shot beautifully by Thabang Moleya whose directorial work on Jacob’s Cross, The LAB, Zone 14 and JOZI H stands him in good stead as he brings this comedic drama to life.
Unlike most South African movies which have come out in recent years, the dialogue in this movie is in English. As it also features key characters who are romantic interests played by Tongayi Chirisa, Richard Lukunku and Chris Attoh – all foreign nationals. This provides the the movie the opportunity for export in other countries, and will be interesting to see how well it does inside and outside the country, as compared to other movies which were done in vernacular languages.
The movie is not without its flaws. at times the dialogue feels long, almost like on a Tyler Perry play. While some story lines feel like they could have done with more treatment or attention.
But overall the movie is quite an entertaining film, shot beautifully like a cinematographic complement to Jo’burg suburbia. While the strong acting performances take this genre to another level. It’s a definite must-see for everybody, even if one isn’t on a date. It is a movie that deserves seeing not only because it is South African, but because it can hold its own against any Hollywood comedic drama that will be released for the rest of his year.
Themba A Dikgale