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Matwetwe – Delightful High Art


Matwetwe is an all round sensory pleasure. You just sit there with a stubborn smile on the face the entire time, almost as if you have imbibed in the product at the centre of the film, writes ART STATE publisher Mpho Matsitle.

The coming of age comedy flick is peppered with genuinely South African uppercut punchlines – like Randy Mareka’s (Thapelo Seemise) pertinent khweshin about people cutting other kids fingers with no regard whatsoever as to whether the said kids are Sundowns or Chiefs fans. In the end all I was worried about was the fate of Borotho (Sphumuzo Sidzumo) – and I pity those who left the theatre as soon as credits started rolling.

Matwetwe is literally your favourite majiyane’s story on film. It is sounds too good to be true, but every detail of it is entirely plausible.

But of course the big question on everybody’s lips is: between it and Kagiso Lediga’s last effort Catching Feelings, which has the better soundtrack. The later is set in the burbs with the middle age bourgeoisie intelligentsia as its protagonists, its music has a consistent jazzy and soulful feel to it. Matwetwe on the other hand is a tale of two teenagers stranded in the no-mans land of the post-matrix pre-varsity interregnum, and is set in the most cosmopolitan place there is in the world: the township. Contrary to the much bandied about notion of outsiders who’ve arrogated the telling of our stories  – we are far from one homogeneous group. We are one, indeed, but all unique.

The three majiyane (Kefilwe Mello, Bugzito Seagiso and Luzuko Sotshononda) who serve as our tour guides through this incredibly hilarious tale introduce Atteridgeville as a place where all is possible – different people leading their different lives in one place. Later on as the two protagonists do the rounds to sell their wares, we see them serve all manner and sort of people from priests to prostitutes. The two childhood friends themselves are worlds apart, one is poor living in a matchbox house with his grandma and grandpa in a state of stroke induced vegetation, and the other the son of a taxi tycoon living in a three storey mansion with his mother and sister. One is an ultra hubristic hustler, the other a social retard of a nerd. But one thing brings them together – love. Nothing brings this to the fore than Papi’s irritation with his dog’s blind trust in his father. “I trust him” Lefa (Sibusiso Khwinana) repeats over and over again, every time sounding more incredulous and sad. We are all in on it – both us and Papi; Lefa’s father is trash. But no son has ever quite successfully seen through their father, so as surety against the impending disappointment, Papi (Tebatso Mashishi) gives up the lion’s share of his loot – a whole entire R35 thou – for Lefa’s schooling. The sceptic and the naïve, united by bromance!

The beat that Matwetwe marches to is indicative of this ‘unity in diversity’ (to borrow from the constitution of the republic). From European classical, to kwaito and jazz all the way to gospel brass bands famed for providing reprieve from the humdrum of vuvuzelas in football games at the capital city. The disparate songs, genres, and styles that make up the  jukebox score can each be attributed to every single one of the eccentric characters. The music paces the film brilliantly, unites the different people and their different stories, weaving together a single, coherent, comical story.

Matwetwe opened in all Bloemfontein cinemas on Friday, and is a definite must see.

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