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Die Pro
Genre Drama
 
Review:

South Africa is home to many prime surf spots including: Long Beach, Dungeons, Dunes, Cape St. Francis, Eland's Bay, Jeffrey's Bay, Nahoon Reef, Wild Coast, Muizenberg and South Africa's surfing capital, Durban. It's birthed a growing number of surfing movies including: Otelo Burning, Blue Crush 2, The Perfect Wave, Ocean Driven and now Die Pro.

While South Africa is a world-class surfing destination, it's also becoming a world-class film-making destination, making the marriage of surfing and film-making a natural progression. Die Pro takes full advantage, adapting a popular young adult novel by Leon de Villiers into a coming-of-age drama about a young surfer dealing with the tragic loss of a friend.

Die Pro stars Edwin van der Walt as Tiaan Nothnagel, a promising young actor, who continues to impress with a series of solid performances in Ballade vir 'n Enkeling, Hollywood in my Huis and now Die Pro. He's supported by an ensemble who deliver memorable performanceswith Reine Swart as his best friend's beautiful twin sister, Bennie Fourie as his fun new buddy, Arno Greeff as his despicable nemesis, Neels Van Jaarsveld as his complex mentor, Zakeeya Patel as the sassy new girl and Albert Maritz as the disgruntled headmaster.

Edwin van der Walt bounces off his co-stars like a pinball as each character reveals a different side to him, slowly peeling away the pain as he tries to make peace with himself. The story deals with Tiaan's re-adjustment over a year as he deals with anger, guilt and loss. It's a delicate balancing act, which is comfortably undertaken by van der Walt with direction from André Velts.

In many ways, Die Pro, parallels Chasing Mavericks as our young protagonist's surfing journey is interwoven into his emotional frame of mind. While Die Pro isn't as sombre as Chasing Mavericks, it also deals with some contentious issues, re-calibrating its tone by injecting some good-natured fun and humour into the high school drama.

Die Pro is entertaining and leverages natural cast chemistry to great effect as we get to know Tiaan's immediate circle of friends and enemies. The surf cinematography is good, the music is upbeat and the emotional journey is honest and heartfelt as we connect with the teenage angst of a likable, sincere and stubborn kid in Tiaan.

Velts delivers a convincing and consistent film in Die Pro, relying on a emotionally resonant story from de Villiers and leaning on his lead actor in van der Walt. The end result is enjoyable as we get to know Tiaan and work through the quagmire of emotions with him.

The film does jump back-and-forth in time, which while confusingly unannounced, becomes easier to place in relation to the characters. Then, one particular performance breaks the established tone with comical effect, whether as directed or not, as she tries to embody the essence of sexuality. While amusingly over-the-top, it becomes about as distracting as keeping stride with bubblegum on your shoe.

While a little jarring, these uneven elements are smoothed over in the greater scheme of things by a sincere coming-of-age drama that wins you over with heart and entertains with schoolboy shenanigans. Die Pro leans on formula, echoes Chasing Mavericks and delivers a competent surfing movie on the back of great chemistry, a touching story and a charming lead.

The bottom line: Enjoyable

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