Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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One can no longer say that a film like Faan se trein is good for "an Afrikaans film". There are simply too many incredible Afrikaans and South African films available. Thus I have to judge Faan se trein according to international (and South African) standards.
It felt like a play and not a movie. It was overacted. The music and the calendar-type shots of the landscape were soppy. And apologies to Willie, but he didn't break out of the pigeonhole he has created for himself as an actor - I did not see a mentally disturbed yet innocent soul, but rather the below-the-belt grapjas from Vetkoek Paleis, Stoute Boudjies and Poena is koning. In fact, I found his portrayal of Faan a bit creepy.
That brings me to the biggest gripe I have with the film.
Faan is fascinated by "titties": he watches the young girls in short skirts play netball and on more than one occasion he refers to the lead in his pencil, or his "Jakobregop", in other words his erect penis. Yet when one of the netball players mentions her discomfort to her dad, he laughs it off with "A man will be a man." And when Beatrice complains to her husband about Faan's ogling her boobs, she is brushed off and sent home.
Not only is Faan's sexual behaviour tolerated, it is sommer chalked up to his manhood or his innocence. I find that extremely disconcerting. He verbalises his lust, he creates discomfort for young girls, yet he is protected by the men in the community. The racism in the film is treated as historically correct, but as no longer morally acceptable. The sexism, however, is not broached in any way.
Beatrice is the evil woman who "seduces" Faan, who uses his "innocence" against him in order to get her hands on his family heirlooms. Nothing, however, is made of the fact that he ogled her boobs, told her about his erection or that he tried killing her first by slicing her open with a sickle, secondly by strangling her. As conniving as she might have been, she deserved none of that.
My brother is mentally disabled. I have been around disabled children my whole life. I know the drill. Some are innocent, some are not, and even they don't understand the consequence of their actions - they still pose a very real threat. Faan, however, is protected by the community over and over again and with extraordinary measures? I don't get it.
The only good thing about this film is Nicola Hanekom's lifeless, stark portrayal of a desperate woman married to a drug addict, trapped in a small town and dying of boredom. She is powerful.