Friday, July 31, 2020

Seriously Single: Movie Review

A legitimately crazy ex-fling.
The South African (English language) rom-com Seriously Single is basically 4 movies in one. If it was four different short films, a couple of them would be entertaining and really good. As one movie, it’s better than it had any right to be, but there are still pacing issues and character issues as Dineo (Fulu Mogovhani) goes through many highs and lows in her love life.   2020

Directed by: Katleho and Rethabile Ramaphakela

Screenplay by: Lwazi Mvusi

Starring: Fulu Mogovhani and Tumi Morake

Lead actress Mogovhani miraculously lends Dineo an air of humility, allowing the audience to laugh at her even if we’re not laughing with her; a character that is so desperate on paper, that in reality she would be way too shrill to watch for more than five minutes. This version of Dineo is entertaining, funny, and although she’s not relatable (and I also don’t think she’s supposed to be), there is enough empathy to keep the audience connected to her.

One of the issues is how over-the-top sibling directors Katleho and Rethabile Ramaphakela threaten to make it every step of the way. It appears to be the actors who tone it down and keep the movie Earth-based. It opens with Dineo at work, it’s Valentine’s Day and she’s very excited (understatement). A package arrives for her, obviously her boyfriend is planning something big, instead he’s mailing her stuff back to her, his way of breaking up with her.

Best friend Noni (Tuni Morake) is what you describe as “single and loving it”. Her life is loud, flamboyant, and presumably spent in equal parts between a bed and a club - although she somehow has a successful job (just ignore how). Her cure for the depressed Dineo is to take her out to a club, get drunk, sleep with a random guy, and forget about the ex. Dineo successfully does 3.5 out of those 4 steps – she sleeps with a guy she meets at the club but has decided he’s not random, he’s perfect for her.

If that was short film number 1, the next segment is somehow funnier and livelier even it does slow the film down. Her and her new man had very different ideas of what their night out would lead to, and Dineo becomes a stalker. Not just bordering on being a stalker, legitimately being a crazy ex-fling. Hence my comments earlier about not being relatable, but she is still very funny through these stretches. I also really appreciated the twist that comes not even half-way into the movie. It’s a typical rom-com and yet still found ways to make it feel fresh.

The length becomes a bit of an issue, since by the half-way mark Dineo has already gone through more highs and lows than some people could even count. The second half is marked with a lot more drama as we throw in a new relationship for Noni – this part I loved since Noni wasn’t settling down for the sake of settling down, she was hesitantly settling down because she didn’t want to not be with Max. We also throw in friendship troubles for Noni and Dineo, and Dineo has to somehow grow up to be a reasonable person while still holding down a successful job (which the film completely ignored for the last 6 months of her life).

Seriously Single is not without its pacing and character issues, but it’s entertaining, funny and can still make a rom-com feel fresh at least occasionally.