Film Review: Sugar & Spice


{f} there is anything that can disappoint one with films is when a film ends and you as the viewer feel it did not give its all, when it feels short or even hurried. When you feel there are a lot of knots left undone. A sort of uncrossed t’s that begs crossing. If a film is minimal as a work of art it should established such an idea right at the opening scenes. Its detail to economy will demand that it is judged on that merit. However even such work will wrestle with its closing final scenes if it is to be accomplished by way of its consistency in order for us to regard it as a finished piece albeit minimal. Sugar & Spice leaves us with a bitter sweet taste because it fails to round of its rich discourse, instead, it erects questions right about the end of its crux narrative and that is its only flaw.

Mzansi Bioskop

From a narrative perspective this film sheds light on the harsh reality that many of our matriculants from poor backgrounds face when they finish high school amidst an appalling scarcity of job opportunities. Against a canvas that captures life in the township vividly we are introduced to three friends from varied backgrounds. What is common amongst them is that they come from unstable family backgrounds. Beverly (Refilwe Mofokeng) who seems to be orphaned except for a supportive uncle who prefers that she relocates to the rural area instead of hustling in the township is the alpha female. She does not want to relocate and will do everything in her power to stay in the urban area. Phumzile (Khanyi Langa) is a young mother. Having failed her matric her sexually charged mother tells her how she can’t afford to take care of her and her little one, she’d prefer that she find work to help with the groceries and bills. She resolves to look for work together with Busi.  Busi (Masego Jacobs) struggles with a mother who recently suffered a stroke. Her hope is that if she can she find work she will be able to help her mother settle debts that have been piling up. Such are the threads that sprout at the opening stages of Selby Ngozo’s script.

Beverly, having disappeared from our sight awhile to give us time to indulge in both Phumzile and Busi’s backgrounds resurface; hair done, driving a luxury car and dressed like a professional only for her friends to discover that she is being supported by her boyfriend Robert (Nini Tlhotlhelemaje) . Her return spells a twist in the fabric of the trio’s friendship as she has return to harvest her two friends for consumption by the friends of her ‘rich boyfriend’. Thus the splintered narratives of the trio are harnessed to converge at one point in order to crystallize the turmoil that the tripartite friendship has to go through. And this is where we run into difficulty as the canvas of time afforded this film shrinks and is unable to encapsulate the grand narrative of this film. By default then it remains the onus of the stellar cast deployed here to rescue us from focusing too much attention on the peril of being robbed of a well rounded, denser and intelligible plot.

Sugar & Spice attempts to tackle the vulnerability of young girls at the hands of grown up men who uses them for their ego boosting, unfortunately in a span of about sixty minutes the film fails to tighten up its narration at a crucial moment in the narrative discourse –  and its closure feels hurried. Narratologically speaking, closure of a narrative or the end of the story, even if it leaves a question mark, it is the main event where we ought to see how our protagonists have fared at the end of the blows of life. And that, only that, with regard to Sugar & Spice undo the rather relevant theme the work erects at its opening stages and runs the work into failure to impress the discerning viewer even further. Though this work flounders due to the small size of the canvas afforded it, it remains watchable and it’s packed with an exquisite photography and an experienced stellar cast. These two factors keep Sugar & Spice afloat. It sustains an ‘ok’ three dEF’Points out of five



21 July

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2015

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