Neville Botha
2 minute read
25 Apr 2015
12:00 am

French Toast movie review

Neville Botha

Afrikaans romcoms are all the rage at the moment and they seem to turn into money spinners no matter what they are about, who is in them or whether the story is convincing or not.

Pictures: Nu Metro

Thank goodness there are no singers trying to act in this one. So, as other critics have pointed out, this genre, specifically in Afrikaans, needs to rethink its strategy, because they are turning into blueprints of each other. They tell the same kind of stories in the same way – and all look alike.

French Toast goes a little further with its plot, at least taking the audience to a new location instead of a klein dorpie like the disappointing Vrou Soek Boer. This time, imitating “die huge hit” Liefling – made by the same team – the love story moves to France and some of those scenes definitely work. The exuberance of discovering real love against the backdrop of an exotic location, the joy of Paris, the city of lovers, and the romantic interludes will go down well with its intended audience.

The problem is the film doesn’t look as exotic as the story sounds – even though parts of it were filmed in France. Whether the story takes place in the Cape or Paris, the style is the same and that is where part of the problem lies. The film needs an identity.

French Toast is about a feisty young woman, well-played by Lika Berning, who travels to France with a locket and a head full of ideas about what happened to her mother in the city of romance so many years ago. She uncovers a secret that supporters of romcoms will probably see coming. Nothing wrong with that, the recipes are usually the same.

The problem lies with the script. “Enter a scene as late as possible and leave it again as soon as possible” is a romcom rule the scriptwriter, Tina Kruger, didn’t apply here. Some scenes are badly constructed and the dialogue states the obvious. Where some scenes tell the story without words, others undo this balance by talking too much and showing too little. Show – don’t tell (so much) is the lesson here. And if witty and funny or romantic dialogue is used, economise.

French Toast will be a box office hit. It is easy on the eye, a little hard on the ear, but pleasant and enjoyable.

Script writers and directors should now find a new style and manner to get their messages across. The potential is there.