City Press TV Review
Show: Thulas's Vine
Channel: SABC3 (DStv 193)
When: Thursday, 19:30
When life in the big city gets too much for Thula (Renate Stuurman), a successful radio DJ, she seeks refuge in her home town. Thula is caught having an affair with a prominent and married politician, who paints her in a bad light in the media to protect his reputation.The bad publicity sends Thula into a spiral and she decides to visit her family to ease the pain. But Thula’s is not a conventional family – her mother (Nandi Nyembe) works on a wine farm, where she had an affair with her white boss, who is Thula’s biological father.
This caused major tensions among all parties involved and the resulting bitterness continues when Thula returns and has to deal with her white half-sister’s attempts to sell their wine farm.
This story is cleverly chosen and constructed. Even a short synopsis lets one imagine the various directions in which the show’s writers could take this story. Issues surrounding land claims play a big role, particularly as Thula’s brother Nkanyezi (Wandile Molebatsi) is something of a revolutionary and has had enough of ploughing fields for a white man in exchange for a meagre fraction of the farm’s earnings.
It’s these scenes and dynamics that save this show from being a soppy telenovela. It is expertly filmed and the creators shot on location, which makes the story that much more believable.
Carlo Radebe, known for his role as Duke on Backstage and his performance in Generations, plays a field hand in what I honestly believe might be his best role yet. Usually, his performances aren’t believable and he has a breathy and contrived delivery. But in this role, he is natural and seasoned. The nervous quiver in his voice seems to have dissipated and he is a pleasure to watch.
The cast seems to play out this dramatic and dark story effortlessly. Connie Chiume, who is having quite the year, stars in this production alongside veteran actor Yule Masiteng. Masiteng’s character, Uncle Boy, is a sommelier and confidant to Thula. Bontle Modiselle plays the gripping role of Lindy, a teenage girl who finds herself in a similar situation to what Thula’s mother once did.
Is there anything Modiselle can’t do? Her emotions come across as sincere, as if this is something she has experienced herself. And I’m talking about real tears.It would be nice to see Thula speak more Zulu, though – in the scenes with her family when her mom is shouting in Zulu, a few short responses in vernacular might strengthen her character further.
Thula’s Vine is a valiant effort that consists of 13 episodes of thrilling storylines and picturesque photography. This is an absolute winner.