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Alles wat Mal is
Genre Comedy
 
Review:

Alles wat Mal is is a South African comedy about being a mom, a wife and a woman in today's crazy world. It's based on a short story by Deon Meyer, directed by Darryl Roodt and has been adapted to film by the team that brought us Semi-Soet.

Helena Joubert lost herself somewhere between varsity, getting married and raising her kids. Once a go-getting journalist, she's become a work-from-home mum, running after her two hyperactive tots and her husband. Gustav, eager to land a big investment, wines and dines a beautiful new client and it's not long before Helena reaches breaking point...

Alles wat Mal is embodies a lead character with equal parts of Ally McBeal and Bridget Jones's Diary. Just like Ally, Helena's a slightly neurotic woman, trying to make a mark in her career, nursing an ailing married life and a tendency to make believe. Then, while a modern woman, she's also rather clumsy, self-doubting and prone to embarrassing situations like Bridget.

A promising female lead role requires an actress, who can roll with the punches like Erica Wessels. She's attractive, believable and fun-loving, falling somewhere between Emily Mortimer and Tina Fey. As Helena, we can identify with her struggle to be everything to everyone as a super mom and wife, allowing these roles to dominate her personality. It must be quite liberating for women in a similar stage to live vicariously through her rebellious return to self.

She's supported by Louw Venter as Gustav, her distracted and seemingly wayward husband. The character's ambiguous standpoint adds some suspense as we assume the worst and try to believe the best. Venter walks this tightrope with some precision, keeping the plot taut with a performance that reveals a flawed man with a number of redeeming qualities. Alles wat Mal is, gives Wessels and Venter equal billing, but this is really Helena's story.

Christine Storm is cast as the femme fatale and man-eating investor. She's arrogant, beautiful, loud and sultry, checking all the boxes as an alluring and intimidating woman. While playing into the stereotype, it's a comical take as the rich temptress with affair potential. Meme Ditshego is a charming comic partner to Wessels, carrying great light and exuberance, as the two share a sweet friendship as nanny and employer.

Alles wat Mal is isn't a big budget comedy, but it does have a world class director in Darryl Roodt, who manages to keep the production in check. It's often comical and ventures into the fantastic, but the comedy works within its limits with one foot firmly on the ground. While familiar and formulaic, it's entertaining in its simplicity and amusing in the adventure of finding oneself.

The Eat, Pray, Love style escapade all happens in Helena's head as she literally helps herself make a conscious decision to get back in touch with the old Helena. Wessels is convincing in the duality, earnest in her attempt to rescue that untamed spirit and warm enough to hold it all together as the glue that settles between all the parts of Alles wat Mal is.

The formula helps keep things on-track, the Instagram morality is broad and the Hollywood style climax may grate for some, but it's smoothed over by a convincing and determined performance by Erica Wessels. For the most part, it works... not as a laugh-out-loud comedy, but as a lightly amusing, comical, sincere and spirited emotional reinvention comedy with flashes of romance and drama.

The bottom line: Amusing

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6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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