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Hansie
Genre Biography
Year: 2008
 
Review:

Hansie is a classic rise and fall story that saw one man disgrace a nation, only to redeem himself. The difference is that this story is actually history. Hansie Cronje, South Africa’s golden boy fell from grace after captaining the Proteas cricket team for several years. Cronje’s leadership and talent as a player guided South Africa through some of their most successful tours, almost upstaging Australia in the 1999 World Cup. His formative years were built on integrity, growing up within a supportive family unit and schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein. Hansie’s prowess as a cricketer on the field and a gentleman off the field led him to become one of South Africa’s most prolific captains. Hansie is a film about the hero’s legacy, and how one tragic flaw changed his life forever.

The Hansie movie is brought to screen by the makers of Faith Like Potatoes. If you’ve seen Faith Like Potatoes you’ll have a good idea of the perspective taken in Hansie. This isn’t a film to drag his name through the mud, it’s to draw closure and renew optimism. Many South Africans followed the match-fixing scandal according to the media, but this film helps to connect the dots from an insider’s perspective. Hansie’s personal life, cricketing career and spirituality are examined in a fairly factual account of events surrounding his fall. Frans, Hansie’s brother, writes a clean script that’s honest, compelling and emotional. The Hansie movie starts by constructing his old persona. The good Hansie Cronje was composed, sincere and based his life on sound values. The script may have created a rosier picture of what actually happened, but doesn’t skip over Hansie’s acceptance of personal responsibility. The pursuit of a better lifestyle and more money is something most people can identify with, and taking the audience along for the ride helps one understand and sympathise with the crestfallen hero.

Frank Rautenbach plays Hansie and succeeds in conveying his character’s sense of guilt and remorse. Rautenbach isn’t as tall, dark or lanky as Cronje, but manages to capture the essence of the man. His mannerisms, accent and image are strong enough to associate the two and the production captures footage, famous ‘Hansie’ moments, posters, magazines and expressions replacing Hansie’s face with Rautenbach’s. Sarah Thompson fills the part of Hansie’s wife, Bertha Cronje. She manages to be the loyal and supportive woman by Hansie’s side, but doesn’t manage to tame her South African accent. A voice-over would’ve been more distracting, but her vocal fluctuations made it difficult to stay in tune with the drama and the character. The supporting cast helped steady the ship for the Captain, but there weren’t any stand outs.

The Hansie movie is one of South Africa’s bigger films in terms of budget. The picture quality is clearer and has less of a made-for-TV feel than many other productions. This can also be attributed to Regardt van der Bergh, whose wealth of experience gives Hansie more international appeal. The South African backdrops are beautiful and the on-location shooting in India, leaves a strong impression. The production values are good and for the most part this film comes across as a labour of love. However, the movie is spoilt by hundreds of product placements, which give the film a South African flavour, but distract the eye from the performances. For example, Hansie’s infamous marriage proposal at the Spur is cleverly transplanted at a Dros, which actually has a classier feel. The sport shots are intentionally mediocre, as Hansie isn’t trying to challenge Hollywood for the sports genre trophy podium. Instead, the movie is content with drama and delves into psychological and spiritual aspects of the title character.

Many will accuse the Hansie movie of spinning a media icon’s disgrace into a spiritual message geared towards Christianity. The production has a clean and crisp tone, and does plant faith-based questions and answers, but isn’t subversive in relaying its message. The script is based on highly publicised events and facts that cannot be deconstructed. So it’s simply a take on Cronje’s personal redemption. Hansie openly professed his beliefs before he became Captain to a Rhema congregation, and his story is likened to the parable of the prodigal son. The film would simply be a tragic series of downward spirals without the upliftment factor, and this saving grace powers Hansie’s story home.

Hansie is flawed, from poor casting decisions and pacing to instances of tone melting sound effects and inappropriate music. Sarah Thompson’s accent distracts from her performance. The pacing is affected by footage that would normally hit the editing room floor. While shotgun sounds emphasise close up objects and upbeat stock music highlights turning points. International audiences won’t share much familiarity with the story, but they will understand the story’s central theme and national importance. Sports fans will be able to identify with the concept of heroism, tradition, honour and pride. Christians will connect with themes of forgiveness, salvation and upliftment. While anyone that’s South African will find enlightenment in the retelling of this fallen hero’s tale. Hansie is not a must-see feature film, but you won’t regret spending two hours of your time living his story again. Be sure to watch the credits to see the real Captain massacre Shane Warne’s bowling and get a glimpse into the man’s personal life with a photo slideshow of Hansie and his family.

The bottom line: Uplifting.

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