Verdict: 3 / 5
I support the South African film industry wholeheartedly and even more so in the case of Thina Sobabili (The Two of Us), a film that seems to defy expectation for even existing.
Made independently and shot over only 7 days, what you have is a great movie with some really impressive production quality and acting that punches above its weight at all times.
Thulani (Gweva) and Zanele (Mtshali) are a brother and sister living together in Alexandria township after the death of their grandmother who raised them. The film is mostly concerned with Zanele’s attempts to find any way to leave the world in which she was born, even if those means harm her, and Thulani’s increasingly desperate and harmful ways to try and protect his sister and act like the man of the household. The strength of this movie is the relateability of its plot to reality for many South Africans, and the performances of the two lead actors are very good throughout.
Thina Sobabili makes me think about the fine line that films in this country should take. There is a balance to be struck between airy, inconsequential rom-coms and gritty, depressing “poverty-porn” movies to be made about life here. There’s space for both, but I would love to see these two benchmarks moving closer and closer over time. Thina Sobabili is obviously located on the more depressing, some would call realistic side, and it’s a good movie that promises good things for the South African film industry. I’m just looking forward now to where we go next, and I would like to see a movie that entirely surprises me coming from this country, rather than another well-made one of the kind I expected. Because films like Thina Sobabili have already been there now and done that.