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CAPE OF GOOD HOPE (PG-13) (2004)

Artistic License

Official Site

Director: Mark Bamford

Producers: Suzanne Kay Bamford, Genevieve Hofmeyr

Written by: Mark Bamford, Suzanne Kay Bamford

Cast: Debbie Brown, Eriq Ebouaney, Nthati Moshesh, Morne Visser


Welcome to the Cape of Good Hope, the white name for the bottom of Africa. Explorers named the cape for their own hopes of finally getting around Africa to reach India, because they cared little for Africa and much for spice. They didn’t care for the strange looking natives, black as the richest soil. Later the traders (whitey) would concern themselves with the rich natural resources on that continent: gold, ivory, diamonds, pearls… some even mistook the natives for natural resources. Their good hope concealed a darker purpose. Greed had driven all the ventures that sought a water route to beloved India. By and large they failed, but greed succeeded all the same, with theft, kidnapping, lies, extortion, murder, war, disease, conquest, slavery, and genocide. That legacy lives on today. People have a habit of caring more for dogs than people. Just ask any bum with a mangy companion.

Good Hope has a more personal meaning for the residents of this film. Take Kate (Brown), who manages an animal shelter. Kate hopes for sordid meetings in shabby motels with her secret lover. Her father left her mother when she was but a lass, and forever ruined her perception of the ideal man. Oblivious to the “boy scout” doting upon her, she runs after the bad boy, a rich man with a penchant for misanthropy. Jean Claude (Ebouaney) hopes to emigrate to Canada. South Africa is no place for an educated man with boundless reserves of compassion to live out his dreams. He has a Ph.D. in astronomy (NOT that zodiac thing), but is instead viewed only as a pair of strong, skilled hands. He works at the aforementioned animal shelter and volunteers at the planetarium. Even though he works a vacuum cleaner the children love to ask him the secrets of the universe. If you ever need to know what keeps all matter together, just ask Jean Claude, and he’ll tell you its love. Gravity is love, which would explain why love can hurt. And lastly, the impoverished Lindiwe (Moshesh) hopes to escape shantytown with her family. To this end, she studies for her college night classes, because she works all day for some rich fucks (whitey). But whitey shatters her dreams by forcing her to work during her important test. Oddly enough, her professor didn’t sympathize (I’d expect more understanding from a fellow black woman in South Africa). Lindiwe must look elsewhere for hope and happiness.

So the point is that all these characters are hoping for the wrong things. Each needs a solid source of love. Kate needs a good man despite her bad faith (a Sartre says what?), Jean Claude needs a family to care for, and Lindiwe needs a father for her son. Get it?

I need to talk to my agent. Somehow I get all the feel-good movies that lift your spirits, but I’m already a pretty happy guy. With so many of these kinds of movies behind me, this flick is like a drop in a bucket. At least it seemed like a really nice drop. I expected a little more darkness and suffering given the setting, but they kept it clean to keep me happy. And I’m glad they did.

They did not keep me entertained, however. The comedy was spread rather thin across this picture, with a few little crystals here and there. Most of the funnies come from the sillier minor characters, like Habib, Penny, Bruce, and Tupac. That’s right, Tupac. I just want more funny! Is that too much to ask?

So, if you need something to make you feel like there’s some good hope in the world, go see this movie. If you want something funny, witty, entertaining, or otherwise amusing, then this won’t be the ideal choice.

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

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