Well... I can't remember how many times over the past few months I've told people "No, Nommer 37 is not your 'run-of-the-mill' Cape Flats gangster movie". To be honest... Until now that was based on the information I have been given by people involved in different aspects of the production of the movie, but now I have actually seen the entire film. After attending the official South African premiere on Monday 21 May I can with one hundred percent certainty say... Nommer 37 is die nomme vannie flêt... It gannie oo’ nommeskap en gêngsterism soes ôs it kennie...
I'm still as vrek bang as ever when writing a review of a movie I absolutely enjoyed watching; Scared that I might somehow end up giving away a blow-by-blow run-down of the entire movie; Scared of being that person who with just one not so well thought through sentence will piemp the ending of the movie... ...but moenie worry nie. No need to go full-blown 'spoiler alert' on this one. Ek gannie alles piemp nie.
Ek wil eintlik ook gesels oor hoekom dit belangrik is dat as jy een van hulle is wie die movie reeds afkraak sonder dat jy dit gesien het, dat jy dit tog seblief moet kyk en dan as jy werklik nog steeds die movie wil afkraak, then at least you are making an Informed Argument. Dan praat jy From a Position of First Hand Knowledge in plaas daarvan dat jy snêrt praat oor 'n film wat jy skaars gesien het... ...maar daai gesels kry jy in Part Two - Nommer 37 - Why Are Cape Flats Crime Movies Under Constant Fire?
...maar laat ek julle gou vertel hoekô ek dink dat die 'n kwaai movie is. Part One - A Crime Thriller That Delivers Riveting Genre-Correct Entertainment - Nommer 37 Reviewed
The plot seems fairly simple... A petty criminal Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally) is a wheelchair-bound recent paraplegic who has to repay a villainous loan shark whom he owes a large sum of money. He moves into a flat with his long-time girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman). She gives him a pair of binoculars, something with which to experience the outside world as he is stuck in the flat all day. That is when he witnesses a powerful criminal named Lawyer (David Manuel) commit murder and decides to blackmail the crime boss in order to get the money that would allow him to repay his debt to Emmie (Danny Ross), the sadistic loan shark. Like I've said, it seems fairly simple... Right?
“With a title like Nommer 37 and set in a fictional Cape Flats area, you would think that this is a film about gangsters – it’s not. What it is, is an out-and-out crime thriller that tightens the screws of tension with every minute. It’s about everything that could go wrong for a couple when depression, curiosity, greed, fear and horrific bad decision-making collide,” says director and writer Nosipho Dumisa.
This being a crime thriller, of course things at some point have to start going wrong for the lead characters; Small things at first... Things which make you the viewer progressively become a little more and more edgy. In your head you start calculating different outcomes to these little scenarios which either end up with you giving a sigh of relief or saying "Damn!". Then, for some of those scenes your sigh of relief or your "Damn!" could suddenly get flipped right around a few seconds later.
The film also throughout the story explores the love between the lead couple and even this at times leaves you asking all sorts of questions as the dynamics of their relationship enhances the different tensions within the plot. Great acting and superb directing of the scenes between Ally and Rockman makes the moments of loving tenderness as well as the many scenes of angry tension between the couple almost tangible.
Their small little misfortunes soon start snowballing and the brilliance in the script is that no matter how many different outcomes you try to predict, the twists become more and more surprising as the pace of the movie gradually picks up building up to a climatic ending that holds a few surprises that had someone sitting behind me loudly say "Jarre!".
Besides the nail-biting tension and the romance, Nommer 37 is also peppered with typical dry Cape Flats humour and the odd hilarious moments that had the audience roaring with laughter. Those comedic moments were just few and far apart enough and timed just right to break the tension before you get sent right back up on that roller-coaster ride waiting to see if they will get past the next obstacle they find themselves stumbling and bungling through.
This is Gambit Films' second foray into the world of feature films, with their first Noem My Skollie getting acclaim from different corners of the world and in that regard Nommer 37 is also headed in that direction. Chances are that if you liked Noem My Skollie you would probably like this movie too but the two should not be compared head to head. They are far too different from each other in so many different aspects. This in any case isn't supposed to be a comparative review, so I will move right along.
One of the characters who adds to setting this movie apart as not being about the stereotypical Cape Flats gangster is Emmie. The way Emmie operates and the way in which he speaks brings to the fore that this is a story about different types of criminals with different levels of "sophistication" with Randall notably being the least "sophisticated".
Moenie worry nie... I'm not going to be the one who tells you exactly how he sounds but here is just a slight idea of what to expect... His tone of voice, his choices of words and his mannerisms makes the skinny well-dressed guy that to some would look fairly harmless come across as evil and sadistic. Like I have said to Danny Ross in a conversation we had after the movie... At first the voice and his laughter seemed 'all wrong' for the character but one soon got to understand exactly why he sounded 'wrong'. There has possibly never been a character portraying a criminal from the Coloured community sounding quite like that on SA screens before... His voice was a bit of a "culture shock". No, no, no, no... Not like that eksê.. No, he didn't sound like he is from another "culture".
I asked Danny where and how he got the inspiration for Emmie's voice or whether the voice was exactly scripted like that. "A unique voice and laugh that are different to my own are characteristics I always include in my characters." "Emmie is the first real villain I played and I figured that I had to come up with a voice and laugh that is sadistically un-ordinary and that didn't allude to any ties with gangsterism, because the character is a different type of criminal." According to Jeremy Maart, my friend who accompanied me and took most of Bruinou.com's photos at the premiere, Emmie's voice also took him aback at first but after a few scenes it made a lot of sense. Danny's plan most certainly worked.
It is really marvelous that the entire movie was shot in Afrikaans of which the majority of the dialogue was in Afrikaaps, the dialect spoken by most people on the Cape Flats. Something that did slightly bother me though is that some people for who the Afrikaaps dialect flows naturally through their whole being, it may sound as if some of the dialogue by some of the actors is somewhat measured in a few of the scenes. Not extremely so but it came across as if with certain words the actors were asked or for some other reason they themselves may have decided to slow their speech down just a tad bit, which then to me sounded like it was someone trying to speak our dialect without them having the natural Cape Flats rhythm. Admittedly those are very few instances and maybe... Maybe it was just me being pedantic...
To be honest... For me to find something else wrong with the movie just for the sake of having something "negative" to say in my review... Djy wiet mos... Like vi "balance" en wat wat... I would have to watch the movie again with the specific aim to look for something to moan about and that would be me agonisingly trying to split hairs. Why on earth would I want to do that?
Whenever I do end up watching this movie again, it will absolutely be so that I can enjoy it again.
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises was that there was some lekke Afrikaans Hip Hop in the movie... Not by any means played long enough for anyone to get captivated by the tracks which only formed part of the background soundscapes but enough to know that the full soundtrack album will in all likelihood be a worthwhile acquisition at least for Hip Hop heads should it become available anytime soon.
We have already published an article on Bruinou.com about the first track released off the soundtrack called Dala Wat Jy Moet by Youngsta CPT & Irshaad Ally. According to some of our sources it supposedly doesn't get played in the movie and I’m not so sure about that but I also can't really say that I heard it playing during the movie.
The title track Nommer 37, performed by none other than long-time Bruinou.com member LinkrisTheGenius aka Lindley Heynes, starts playing as the end credits start to roll and it is definitely gonna have Hip Hop fans not wanting to immediately leave the theatre. I mean, after already getting out of my seat I was kinda trying to tarry when I realised how nca that track was but eventually I was forced to get out of the theatre because of the people behind me. Still, I heard more than enough of it to make my mind up that it’s a dope track.
Though set on the Cape Flats, the story is one that could play out in any city anywhere in the world and if the movie was in any other language which I do not understand, following the subtitles would still have it make sense. That is probably what makes this crime thriller attractive to the distributors who want to show it to international audiences. Indeed, a significant achievement for Gambit Films, for director Nosipho Dumisa, for the cast and everyone else involved in the production is that Nommer 37, a wholly Afrikaans movie has picked up a distribution deal with Dark Star Pictures for release in theaters across the USA later his year.
We at Bruinou.com however want you to not simply just go out and watch the movie for the mere sake of it being locally made and that it puts bread on the table for local actors and others working in the film industry... We genuinely do not want you to miss out on the thrill of it all. It is rêrag 'n kwaai film.
Veral as jy van crime thrillers hou dan is die movie vir jou.
Just don't be that bra or that kint who some day when it no longer plays in cinemas, you wanna download it from a dodgy website and then you suddenly realise how much better it would have been on the big screen... Nommer 37 opens at SterKinekor Theaters across the country on Friday 1 June 2018.