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Movie Review: Die Windpomp


Die Windpomp or The Windmill is a mercurial genre butterfly. What starts out as a quirky, campy and quaint off-beat comedy drama in the style of Wes Anderson, manages to swathe itself in a cocoon of Nicholas Sparks romance and mystery, before emerging as a fantasy romance with much deeper philosophical questions on the nature of love.

We follow the misadventures of Henri, a young adult who stumbles upon a retirement village's secret after moving in with his ailing grandfather. Writer-director, Etienne Fourie, has composed a slow-boiling indie mystery that is entertaining, enchanting and surprising. He manages to turn Die Windpomp on its head by completely redressing the film halfway, only to surprise us again with its deep emotional undercurrents.

Die Windpomp toys with us, fluttering just out of reach of the net in an effort to avoid being boxed in. Fourie sustains the first half of the film by introducing us to an array of colourful and comical characters, gently tugging at our heart strings with a blossoming romance. Garden gnomes, pink flamingos and retro production design abounds, giving the retirement village a kitschy, frozen-in-and-out-of-time personality.

Die Windpomp Movie Review

"Hope it's okay if I skip stones with you... for the rest of my life."

Armand Greyling plays our hero, Henri. He's like Ashton Kutcher and Paul Dano rolled into one. Kutcher's boyish charm and Dano's quiet alienation make him fascinating to watch as we journey with his introverted yet quizzical character. He's supported by the beautiful Leandie Du Randt as Margot, a delightful and fun-loving girl next door, who could have been Annasophia Robb's older sister. The two light up the screen with a warm, innocent and unassuming on-screen chemistry.

The retirement village residents include: Marga Van Rooy, who plays Tannie, a curious, devoted, doting and sincere neighbour. Ian Roberts supports as the village's gruff retired doctor, peacemaker and unofficial team leader. While Grethe Fox gives life to the hyped up and effervescent aerobics instructor, Miggie.

Die Windpomp is a strange, yet remarkably mature and inspiring South African film that breaks new ground thanks to the ambitions of American producer, Chris Roland (StanderHotel Rwanda). We think we know what an Afrikaans film is, but Die Windpomp is a new creature - touching on some similar comedy notes to Jimmy in Pienk and then contorting itself into a new space. Fourie maintains the suspended reality by using special effects as a last resort, relying on subtle editing techniques to give the film its sense of magic.

This is an eclectic film that deserves your attention. There are a few moments and tonal shifts that don't quite gel, mostly due to the complex genre mash-up, but there's enough emotional depth and intellectual warmth to keep it exuberant, thought-provoking, amusing and delightfully enjoyable.

The bottom line: Elemental