So I watched Die Pro…
South African movies are getting better and better with Afrikaans movies, in particular, really setting the standard for how good local movies can be. I can’t wait for the day (and that day is coming soon) when I came walk into a South African movie and not have to lower my standards or cut a movie slack because it’s being locally-produced. In fact, Die Pro is such a great movie that I didn’t need to judge it on a altered scale or cut it any slack.
Okay, basic plot: Tiaan Nothnagel (Edwin Van Der Walt) is a teenager and former avid surfer struggling to deal with the loss of his best friend – Dirkie – who drowned the year before. Tiaan has sworn off surfing because it reminds him too much of his best friend and he’s become somewhat of a recluse, spending most of his time in his room as he mourns. This all changes when Yvette (Dirkie’s twin sister) comes back to town after spending the year with her father after her parents’ divorce. Yvette is determined to win Wave Seekers – a tournament Tiaan and Dirkie both dreamed of participating in but she doesn’t know how to surf and implores Tiaan to teach her so that she can fulfill a promise she made to her brother during his funeral. Although initially reluctant, Tiaan eventually budges and agrees to teach her, realising that the only way to be free of the past is to face it.
I really enjoyed this movie, a lot more than I thought I would and this is largely due to the quality performance of the cast. Edwin Van Der Walt is the heartbeat that gives this movie life. This entire movie is about the grieving process that his character, Tiaan, is going through and how he has to find the courage to get back out there and surf again and the movie would have fallen flat if Van Der Walt’s performance was lacking. He does a phenomenal job and draws you in and makes you feel the character’s struggle, I felt so connected to him the entire movie. He is this movie’s bedrock and because he puts in such a strong performance, all the other aspects of this movie can flourish. But Van Der Walt isn’t the only one who puts in a solid shift in this movie. Reine Swart who stars as Yvette also puts in a memorable performance and manages to hit that sweet-spot of emotional poignancy.
One of my favourite characters in this movie was Hermann (played to perfection by Bennie Fourie). He’s the new kid in school who befriends Tiaan and really helps bring him back to the world. Hermann is a loveable idiot who’s always cracking jokes and isn’t afraid to be silly. This made for a great piece of juxtaposition against the brooding demeanour that Tiaan has throughout the majority of the film. Hermann was also a great source of comedy and kept the levity in the movie alive and Fourie puts in a great comedic performance. Zakeeya Patel is also in this movie and stars as the high school slut – Jasmine. She absolutely killed me and, with the exception of Hermann, drew the most laughs out of me in this movie.
I know this goes without saying because this movie is South African produced but this movie feels really South African. From its humour to its overall look, it has this great local energy and spirit to it which I absolutely loved. There’s just something about seeing people who speak the way you speak; think the way you think and live in places that you have been on screen. Seeing a story made for South Africans, most importantly, by South Africans is really special. This movie is also very well-written and the script manages to balance all the characters well. This movie also has a very clear focus and knows what kind of story it’s trying to tell. It keeps things rooted in Tiaan’s journey and delivers a really heartwarming story.
Director – André Velts – along with the rest of the cinematography team do a great job with the way they shoot the surfing scenes in this movie. There are some beautiful shots that fully immerse you in the action.
Overall, this is a really entertaining movie. Look it’s not perfect, it is a bit raw and rough around the edges at times but the majority of the movie is really well put-together and has great focus. The movie could have done with being five to ten minutes shorter because it runs out of steam near the end but it’s definitely worth a watch, overall. 7/10