This locally produced South African comedy is set in Johannesburg, where Axolile “Axe” Gumede, played by Thapelo Mokoena, is a young property agent who is drowning in debt and living beyond his means. He is desperate to close his current big deal, which could get him promoted. He has to deal with loan sharks chasing him and an ambitious colleague, Pule (Shoki Mokgapa) who also wants to impress their boss, Mike (Jamie Bartlett) for the same promotion.
His career is briefly interrupted when he gets sentenced to 200 hours of community service at an old-age home after a little mishap with the police.
Thapelo Mokoena’s performance as Axe was very entertaining and impressive. His time at the Autumn Hills Retirement Home provides for loads of fun-filled moments, which also includes him befriending a grumpy old man, Hendrik (Marius Weyers) who, like him, spent his whole life chasing money.
Veteran actor, Marius Weyers, and Thapelo’s characters’ comedic relationship is cleverly choreographed by the film’s director Rolie Nikiwe.
But he struggled to successfully depict that moment when Axe and Hendrik finally see and appreciate each other’s realities. It felt as if Rolie did not give enough screen time for that moment to happen, while also making it feel like the movie is dragging on for too long.
Rolie Nikiwe did however cleverly interweave the different South African languages and cultures that will give international movie audiences a true glimpse of us South Africans.
“Nothing for Mahala” also stars a host of South African screen legends, including Jamie Bartlett, Kenneth Nkosi, Lillian Dube, Casper de Vries and June van Merch, as well as younger actors like Mmabatho Montsho as Reneilwe, who plays the manager of Autumn Hills Retirement Home.
Casper de Vries, who plays a bad boy loan shark, just did not work for me. No matter how much they tried to make him look like one, Casper just can’t pull off such a character. It felt like he was given a role in this movie as a favour to somebody.
My Final word
“Nothing For Mahala” is an enjoyable South Africa comedy drama, which makes use of the established Hollywood comedy format, that successfully incorporates our own unique South African languages, colours and characters. This includes an amazing and entertaining performance by Thapelo Mokoena as the lead character, Axe Gumede. It is really great to see a South African film that did not adopt the silly slapstick formula.
Director: Rolie Nikiwe
Screenwriter: Darrel Bristow-Bovey
Starring: Marius Weyers, Thapelo Mokoena, Kenneth Nkosi, Lillian Dube, Jamie Bartlett, Desmond Dube, Casper De Vries & Zahara.