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Movie Review | Fiela se Kind [2019]

How do you write a move review when you have no words as a result of the movie leaving you speechless? If that has not persuaded you to go and see Fiela se Kind, (Fiela's child) - currently showing at Cinema Nouveau and based on Dalene Matthee's novel of the same name - then let me try with words.

My judgement of this movie is purely on its own merits - I am not comparing it to the 1988 version which I have not seen, but which comes with its own commendation. Just a disclaimer - my response to this movie is tinged with nostalgia as Dalene Matthee was part of my Afrikaans reading list in High School. There is also something quite special about watching a movie with subtitles - enabling a connection with and an appreciation of a language foreign to your mother tongue. The setting for Fiela se Kind is 1865 and the arid Langekloof mountain region of the Karoo and the town of Knysna. The opening scenes are of Fiela Komoetie, a Coloured woman, finding a lost 3 year toddler on her doorstep and raising him as her own, naming him Benjamin. That is until the White census officials from Knysna discover him at the age of 9 and remove him from Fiela's family, as it is simply wrong for a white child to live with a coloured family. By order of the Knysna Magistrate, Benjamin is forced to live with the Van Rooyen's, a family of woodcutters in the Knysna forest, as he is allegedly their missing son, Lukas van Rooyen. The movie's plot develops with suspenseful gentleness and pathos, combined with powerful character nuances and contrasts that are masterful. (You will need tissues). The setting, locations and visual emotions tell as much of the story as the dialogue. Fiela (Zenobia Kloppers) plays a complex role with sensitivity, strength, credibility and integrity. This is a drama that powerfully and beautifully conveys the fierce all-consuming love of a mother who loves a child as her own and the impact that has on the family and the child. For the analytical over-thinkers among us, there are likely to be a couple of unanswered questions, but do not let that detract from a deeply moving and well-crafted story. And you can always read the novel (which has been translated into English) where some of those questions might be explored in more detail - because as the saying goes: 'The book is generally better than the movie.' Maybe it's because I am a mother, but Dalene Matthee's clever exploration and insights of a small part of life in South Africa in the late 19th century, through the medium of story, will challenge your thinking and settle in your heart. And in my opinion, Director, Brett Michael Innes, does a superb job of portraying and translating that visually through the medium of film.



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