The western film genre is one that is well known for its gritty action and notorious characters who shoot to kill whether the intent is pure or not. Be that as it may the locally produced Five Fingers for Marseilles strives to turn the genre on its head with a raw depiction of a story that comments subtly on the human condition.
Scripted by Sean Drummond and directed by Michael Matthews, this film is a reflective lyrical piece on freedom and redemption.
From the onset, we are confronted with cinematic landscapes, a melancholic musical score and characters who beg for the audience to watch and reflect on the subject matter of the film.
As the plot goes, the “five fingers” in the title refers to the five friends who live in the rural town of Marseilles that have dedicated their lives to protecting the town against Apartheid police brutality. This is until Tau (played by Vuyo Dabula) outrageously commits a crime that changes the lives of his gang and the town altogether. As a result of his crime, he runs away but makes a return to the town 20 years later, and life as he knows it has changed for the worst.
Albeit a film with an ensemble cast, the story perfectly follows the journey of Tau from a praised gang member to a stranger to the town – where he has to rebuild his authority in order to fight off the current villain, Sepoko, played by Hamilton Dhlamini (whose performance is as stellar as it is frightening).
Throughout the narrative of the film there are haunting motifs of freedom, or the struggle thereof. Beyond its Apartheid setting, this film touches on the human craving for freedom and it is seen through multiple characters – whom in essence are tormented by their past in one way or another, but albeit so, they seek freedom in their respective story lines. Redemption is another gripping theme in this film and it lies in the characters’ actions to correct the ills that exist in the Marseilles. Zethu Dlomo plays the role of Lerato and in being the only female among four males, her character serves as a symbol of life and it emphasises that a little bit of care to others can unravel parts of themselves that they never knew existed.
Filled with cleverly orchestrated action sequences, an all-star cast that delivers true to life performances and a story-line that is vehemently authentic, Five Fingers for Marseilles is the type of film that will leave you at the edge of your seat with bated breath.
Five Fingers for Marseilles premieres nationally on the 6th of April 2018.