So I watched Mrs Right Guy…
There was a fair amount of hype surrounding this film with plenty of my friends eager to see it after seeing the trailer. I, myself, hadn’t seen the trailer but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t need too much convincing to go see a movie; plus I’m striving to support more local films. Unfortunately supporting local can be a real labour of love…
Okay, basic plot: After being abandoned on her honeymoon, Gugu (Dineo Moeketsi) comes back home with a less than flattering view on men. She refuses to allow herself to love and treats every guy like a dog unworthy of her time and energy. One day Gugu crashes into the back of a truck which belongs to Joe (Lehasa Moloi) – a local entrepreneur who takes pity on her and offers to fix her car. The accident ends up being doubly fortuitous for Gugu as Joe (in addition to fixing her car) is the perfect candidate for a marketing campaign the advertising company Gugu works for is running. Gugu’s drive impresses her new boss – Dumile (Thapelo Mokoena) who’s interest in Gugu is growing beyond the professional. After swearing off men, Gugu now finds herself juggling two with her career also in the balance.
I think a major problem that local films still suffer from is the inability to display progression in their stories. They have their departure and arrival points well mapped-out but the route necessary to connect these two points is often ill-defined or completely lacking. That’s my biggest complaint with this movie (and believe me there were several to chose from). Events transpire on screen and our lead character is clearly different from who they were in the beginning; but you’re never shown the metamorphosis that led to the change but instead have the finished product shoved in your face without proper explanation.
Look, this is a romcom not Citizen Kane so I’m not expecting groundbreaking story that leaves me questioning my humanity but I am expecting a logical series of steps that leads me to the conclusion. Gugu goes from hating men in one scene to being a lovesick puppy in the next without so much as a passing explanation given to justify the change. The beauty of a story like this is seeing the walls a character has built up to protect their heart being broken down by our hero. Instead of showing us these walls been razed by cheesy, mushy romance, the director and screenwriter think it better to show us the rubble of these walls and have us draw our own conclusions as to how and why they fell.
I could forgive bad writing and direction if the chemistry between the love interests was entertaining and fun to watch; but sadly Mrs Right Guy fails in this department too. The acting across the board in this film is atrocious. This is especially disappointing when you consider the seasoned actors this film’s cast boasts. Names like Thapelo Mokoena and Robert Whitehead decide to collectively phone it in. Dineo Moeketsi was just not believable as the scorned Gugu. Her performance was lacking substance and even though her character was constantly preaching about the fact that she’s more than just a pretty face, Moeketsi proves herself to be nothing more than an aesthetically pleasing vista on screen. This is true of all her co-stars in fact. I like Thando Thabethe’s radio show and while she does have a face suitable for the big screen, her acting is better neither seen nor heard.
The substandard quality of acting in this film comes down to a larger problem in the South African film and entertainment industry. Our industry is filled with a plethora of Jack-of-all-trades and masters-of-none. Because the industry is still in its infancy, it isn’t financially viable to have a single occupation. This leads to people’s job descriptions having titles such as model, actress, singer, presenter, radio DJ etc etc. Now diversification of your talent is great because there are several people who shine in multiple fields; unfortunately numerous South African celebrities have diversification without the necessary talent. This leads to films casting people based on their credentials as a well-known celebrity instead of their skills as an actor. I understand the notion behind this practice because film studios are banking on the hype around someone’s name to increase ticket sales but that kind of thinking is only going to be beneficial in the short-term. If you keep casting people based on hype and producing bad movies, eventually your audience will dwindle because no one wants to see a bad movie.
Another problem I had with this film was its abysmal sound-editing. There are several sections in the film where actor’s voices sounded dubbed and the video isn’t in sync with the audio. Also the score sounded like it was clipped on to the movie at the last minute and didn’t sound natural at all. These are really rudimentary mistakes that need to be phased out if local filmmaking is ever going to truly improve.
Overall, Mrs Right Guy is ALL WRONG. The acting is horrible, the writing is lazy and lacks consistency, and the direction was sloppy and fails to bring the film together as a harmonious piece. As South Africans we have a responsibility to support local art but we also have a right to demand better quality from that art. I wouldn’t recommend seeing this but if we don’t support local then it will never get better. 2/10