Film Review: ‘The White Line’- Beautiful Story, Poor Editing
Director: Desiree Kahikopo
Screenplay: Micheal Pulse
Cast: Girley Jazama, Jan-Barend Scheepers, Sunet van Wyk, Cheez Uahupirapi
The White Line has a message to share and sure as hell cannot wait to get it done and over with.
Filled with all the right ingredients for a colonial romantic drama, The White Line could’ve easily been a great film, if it weren’t for the way the writing, editing, acting and cinematography came together.
The editing really ruins this beautiful love story, cutting from scene to scene, often introducing trivial information which has little effect on the main storyline. The apartheid era, (which the film is set in), is painful for many Namibians and the idea of a forbidden love story blooming during that time easily has an appealing effect. However, a few kiss scenes here and there does not really make a tearjerker- which is something The White Line evidently tried to achieve but failed in.
Casting Girley Jazama as the anguished domestic worker, Sylvia Kamutjemo, was expertly done. Jazama really sells pain and grief. Whether she’s just a good cry-on-cue actress or it’s the result of the director’s torture, Jazama makes one sympathize with her. You really get into the feels.
Alongside Jazama, is Sylvia’s love interest, Afrikaner police officer, Pieter de Wet- played by Jan-Barend Scheepers. The film shows potential for great romantic chemistry between Sylvia and Pieter, but Jazama and Pieter’s delivery for this seemed a little uncomfortable and forced at times. The only moment I felt the ‘magnetic’ attraction between the two characters was when they wrote letters to each other. Pieter, being a sweet, nerdy (or nervous) guy, is open-minded and perhaps in desperate need of a soulmate- or caretaker.
The posh, buzzkill of a woman, Anne-Marie de Wet (Sunet van Wyk) is by far my favourite character in the film. Van Wyk does justice to the character- who is the godmother of inherited racial prejudice- at least in the realm of The White Line. Anne-Marie uses the apartheid regime to her advantage to tower over Pieter and Silvia. Anne-Marie’s has a dominant personality and makes you think her housewife status gives her a lot of time to devise ways that put pressure on Pieter and Sylvia. She is the perfect antagonist: knows what she wants and will go to any length to get it.
The film is perfectly constructed in Otjiherero and Afrikaans (with English subtitles). The cinematography is pretty standard- considering the budget. Director Desiree Kahikopo visibly tried to give the film that 1960’s feel, aided by the colouring. The film is mostly shot in close-up and medium shots. Kahikopo did okay in directing the film- considering it is her directorial debut.
Screenwriter Micheal Pulse did a good job writing the story- the twists do intrigue and would’ve benefited from better ironing out of the scenes. The film has a firm supporting cast who does justice to the sub-plots. The music, especially Pulse’s original song titled The White Line gives substance to the overall film.
It is a good story- just not put together well. The film is important. The story is beautiful. The acting is okay and if you are a fan of stand-up comics who poke fun at accents, you will definitely want to see The White Line.
The White Line was screened for the media on 15 July 2019 in Windhoek and will officially premiere at the Durban International film festival 2019 as an official selection on 22 July. While there is no confirmed date yet, the film is expected to be released later this year to the Namibian public.
Watch The White Line trailer: