City Press movie review
Movie: Catching Feelings
Director: Kagiso Lediga
Starring: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi and Akin Omotoso
Catching Feelings is another in a string of locally made romantic comedies, including Tell Me Sweet Something and Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word. This one was punted as being a dark tale, but I don’t know about all that. At first it plays out like Woody Allen’s Manhattan, where he plays a slightly eccentric and quirky creative in a dialogue intensive film in which the scenery plays a big role – this is what Lediga did with this film.
We’ve come to expect a level of social commentary from Lediga and this film is littered with it. Lediga, who plays Max Matsane, is happily married to Pearl Thusi’s character, Sam. On his birthday at Pata Pata in Maboneng, Max decides to pay the bill of about R4 000 for his buddies. He fails owing to insufficient funds and we learn that he’s a struggling writer/lecturer with one good book to his name. It seems he’s stuck in a routine while trying to hold down a relationship with someone who is out of his league – at least that’s how it came across to me.
I must confess, films about writers always find favour with me. The banter shared between Max and Joel (Akin Omotoso) is witty and crafty. In one scene, the two lecturers are walking on campus talking about a former colleague who was fired for sexual harassment, all while checking out a few girls on the way.
Max meets a well-established writer who he becomes acquaintances with. Heiner, played by Andrew Buckland, is a hedonistic larger-than-life man who is perhaps a bad influence on Max. This sex-driven protagonist is welcomed into Max and Sam’s home, but his behaviour and reputation soon drive a wedge between the couple.
The first half of this movie is quite enjoyable, with lighthearted dialogue and provocative subtext. Lediga pokes fun at everything from slam poetry to the awkward behaviour of white people when they see a poor-looking black person. It also showcases the city in a very suave way. They filmed at all the popular strips in town including Braamfontein, where Lediga jokes that white people were once scared to venture there, but now have the nerve to overcharge for steaks and real estate. Maboneng and Cape Town’s Yard, where Loyiso Gola makes a humourous cameo, also feature. When Max informs Gola’s character that he left Heiner and his wife at home, Loyiso explains how Heiner is going to “colonise that ass”. The sex scenes are daring for local cinema, which I enjoyed. So is the dialogue, which makes you laugh and think, without being preachy.
I would have enjoyed more of Joel’s brash, borderline-crass views on things. Having that alongside Lediga’s role, who seems like a conflicted woke oke, would have been cool. Joel has a side story that sees him falling for a married white woman. We need more of that interracial love on screens, but this story fizzles out without resolution. Ending films seems to be difficult for local producers. This is one of three local films on circuit that have problematic climaxes. After this couple has been through quite a bit, we don’t know whether or not they weathered the storm or capitulated. Is this film to be interpreted as Max’s story or a piece of literature beyond his book?
Lediga and Thusi both deliver solid performances in this classy and stylish production. This is probably my favourite Thusi piece. The film plays a little like a personal classic, Midnight in Paris, without the fantasy aspect. Like I said, I have a proclivity for films about struggling writers. Honestly, it’s local and it’s lekker.