Phumlani S Langa is excited for you to see gritty crime feature film Mayfair.
Starring: Ronak Patani, Ameera Patel and Warren Masemola
Director: Sara Blecher
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The gritty crime feature film Mayfair – directed by South African critics’ favourite film maker Sara Blecher – opened in cinemas on Friday. I had no idea what to expect, but it left me swelling with pride for those who are working tirelessly in the local industry.
This is a story of family and the lengths people will go to to ensure theirs is safe. Imagine if yours was a “family”, as in a well-organised criminal unit with a street empire, which was under constant threat, with rivals looking to acquire the foundation of its wealth.
Mayfair’s lead character, Zaid (Ronak Patani), wants to distance himself as much as he can from the life of his father and cousins, and moves overseas. The film kicks off when he’s forced to return home, and arrives in the middle of a family celebration.
As is customary at some Muslim gatherings, a goat must be slaughtered. As soon as Zaid walks through the door, his cousin hands him a knife. Blecher includes an explicit shot of his taking the life of this goat. Most members of the audience grimaced on seeing this.
When the empire becomes likely to be bought out and Zaid’s younger sister Faiza (Ameera Patel) and his first love Ameena (Kelly-Eve Koopman) are kidnapped, Zaid has no choice but to get involved in taking down the threat to their family – a Somalian man played by Warren Masemola.
As the story begins to build, Blecher subtly shows off the unique aesthetic of the suburb of Mayfair in Johannesburg. I enjoy how the film depicted Zaid’s fear of plummeting to the depths of his father and the moment in which he eventually does.
The cast is well balanced and everyone seems to approach their camera time in ways we haven’t seen before. You haven’t seen Wayne Van Rooyen play a role this dark before, nor Jack Devnarain, who plays a small role but knocks it out the park.
Everything from the efficient use of drone footage to the sombre mood of this piece makes it one of the better local films to drop, and I’m excited for you to see it.