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Pad Na Jou Hart
Genre Romance
 
Review:

Pad Na Jou Hart is a film about finding your True North, getting the girl, overcoming setbacks and learning what's most important in life.

Basson van Rensburg Jr. is on the verge of taking over his ailing father's business. Just when he thinks he's ready to retire at 28, his father sends him on a cross-country adventure in order to challenge Basson's preconceptions of wealth and happiness. It's on the road that he meets the eccentric, Amory.

The film co-stars Ivan Botha as Basson, best known for Bakgat, and DonnaLee Roberts as Amory, who starred in Klein Karoo. Botha's performance is sincere, gently charming and likable, despite his initial stern playboy demeanour. Roberts is naturally effervescent, yet still manages to ground her elemental and retro character. Together, Botha and Roberts light up the screen, breathing life into the adventure with real verve. Marius Weyers uses the little screen time he has to plunge us into the complicated, unresolved father-son tension between Basson and Basson Jr.

The other star of Pad Na Jou Hart is the white Anglia, who deserved its own name and more personality. The vehicle's pristine condition and ability to keep on, keeping on added a quaint, quirky and curious edge to the road trip, which will go down well with the Instagram generation. The adventurers descend on Clarens, Murraysburg and Wilderness on the way from Joburg to Cape Town - riding dusty back roads and allowing the beautiful sights and sounds of South Africa to wash over us.

Pad Na Jou Hart has its heart in the right place. Jaco Smit makes his feature film debut as director, generating solid performances from his actors and delivering a thoughtful and spirited film, which is full of surprises. The sincerity of the performances coupled with the genuine weight of the characters grounds the film. We're invested in Basson and Amory as they encounter even more eccentric characters and each new envelope brings with it another surprise twist.

The crossing off of the bucket list and the father's elaborate planning push the limit of what's believable as the adventurers move along at a rollicking pace. These plot devices keep the film fresh, but checking off the "order of events" gives Pad Na Jou Hart a somewhat contrived feeling. This is mostly redeemed by the sincerity of the characters and the filmmakers best efforts to avoid "romcom" cliches and soften product placements.

Pad Na Jou Hart is a first for South Africa, but the film borrows its main plot line from The Ultimate Gift. The adaptation of Jim Stovall's bestselling book also carries a heartfelt message about a young man on a crash course of self-discovery. Instead of flying solo, Pad Na Jou Hart introduces a romantic interest, which softens the underlying soulful message with light comedy and road trip misadventure.

While the script has a liveliness and the film enjoys good pacing, the subplot involving a menacing David James seems a little unnecessary and out-of-place. We're drawn in by the mystery, but it's like James is from another film. His presence adds snarl and clout, but this dynamic jars with the happy-go-lucky tone of the rest of the film.

This is a heartwarming Afrikaans romantic comedy, drama and road trip adventure. Ivan Botha and DonnaLee Roberts have great on-screen chemistry, and while at times predictable, we want them to fall in love and succeed. The beautiful South African landscapes, sweet-natured tone, road trip rambling and array of quirky characters keep us invested in the story - making this an entertaining, heartfelt and sincere journey.

The bottom line: Heartfelt

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9.00/10 ( 5 Votes )
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