Femme – a review

Culture Box

Last week saw me at the premiere of three films from local filmmakers, under the banner ‘Femme’, by CineGuyana – the Film Producing Company of Guyana.

After giving Avinash Theatres a 30% approval rating a few weeks ago, how odd I felt returning to the building. But the grand Red Carpet entrance gave me no choice; once you step on the carpet there is only one direction to go in.

20110409cultureboxThere were the lights, the cameras, paparazzi, scores of dramatists, producers, writers all dressed to dazzle. “Beautiful,” I thought. But there I was, shameful in jeans, black sneakers and a shirt. In my defence, nobody told me this was going to be paparazzi frenzy.

Enough about me! Before I go into reviewing I would like to make it quite clear that this is constructive. I am not into dashing anyone’s dreams or ambitions.

Written and Produced by Smolana Varwyk. Directed by Mike James
Choices is a film on domestic violence. Based on a true story, it revolves around Sharon who is abused by her husband but then finds comfort in a friend who encourages her to leave.

It was basically a typical portrayal of domestic abuse with a hero to the rescue and lacked imagination. It was said to be ‘based’ on a true story; it came across like a documentary. So the writer missed the opportunity to really write a screenplay.

I was very disappointed at actress Shana Fraser (who played the abused wife). More than once, she was caught looking at the camera rather than playing her role. I had not seen her act before, but I got the feeling that she is quite predictable. I was unmoved by her performance until a clip at the very end where she was sitting and crying.

The silver lining in this film was the schizophrenia of Mark Luke Edwards (who played the abusive husband). He showed the mark of a great actor, charming and smiling; he morphed into an ugly abuser within seconds.
The Scene’s Review: 2 Stars

Written and Directed by Errol Chan. Produced by Charmaine Blackman.

Ruth is a film that centres on the life of a troubled mugger living on the streets. Her life of crime got her shot and sent to prison where she changed her life. After coming out she met a man, fell in love and got engaged.

There were times when I could not follow the storyline of Ruth. I tried because I loved the idea of a reformed badwoman, but there were many unnecessary clips which I felt added nothing to the substance of the film.

Shanaza Lowe (who played Ruth) is an excellent star in the making. I felt her power when she was a mugger; her tears when her friend died and her sorrow at the thought of losing the only man she loved. This is why I love drama, being able to feel the characters, and Lowe made it feel like an HD set to me.

Sean Thompson was just not cut out for the role of a bad boy, to me. But I like the way he stepped into the shoes, although he wobbled in them. By the end of the film he took on a more responsible role and that was where he looked like he belonged. Give Sean an innocent role to play and he will be the Da Vinci of drama.

What amazed me most of all was the cinematography, in particular the streets of Georgetown in broad daylight. It was an incredible experience for me to be watching my city on a giant screen.
The Scene’s Review: 3 Stars

To The Night
Written by Mosa Telford; Directed by Kojo McPherson; Produced by Richard Pitman.

To the Night is about the life of a struggling mother of two, who turns to prostitution in order to make ends meet.

Writer Mosa Telford can make her audience cry, shiver and laugh at the same serious film. Mosa is a powerful writer who knows just how to captivate; she is well known for her dramatic endings and this ending left everyone in grief.

If you put together sexy, sweet, caring, anger, love and bitterness and package them neatly in a box, you might as well label it Sonia Yarde. Sonia has never given me a reason to doubt her talent. And her acting in To The Night was no exception. From sitting in a car with a ‘client’, to crying with her children; it was just raw emotion.

The power of her voice, her attempt to kick down the door, the sorrow and grief after slaving in a house – yeah, it’s about that!
LaVonne George as the tenant was the perfect illustration of a high class snob; beautifully portrayed and well executed.

To the Night is the only film that made me laugh when they were funny scenes and tear up when I felt the pain of the characters. It was the only film where the writer, director and actors all did tremendous jobs with flaws so minute they are not worth mentioning; overshadowed as they were by the brilliance of the production.

The Scene’s Review: 4.5 Stars
The film industry is still in its embryonic stage, but from what I have seen, I would hope it is allowed to grow. We do have the potential to make good films. (Jairo Rodrigues)


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