Nope, it’s not that comprehensive Billy Idol documentary on which audiences have been long waiting. Instead, South Africa’s official 2010 submission in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category is a raucous and somewhat surprisingly charming biracial road flick about love, loyalty and both the burdens and newly discovered joys of commitment.
Looking at the cover art for White Wedding elicited no sort of excitement within me at the prospect of a viewing, I’m sorry to say — perhaps because of the Photoshopped nature of the ensemble, or perhaps because the central figure resembles Los Angeles radio personality Big Boy, or looks a bit like a cousin of that high-spirited guy from the Miller High-Life commercials. Or perhaps just because I am a closet racist, I don’t know. Either way, it’s a pleasure to report that the considerable offbeat engagement herein stands in contrast to the seemingly manufactured nature of the air-quote fun that its cover presents.
Only days away from her big wedding, Ayanda (Zandie Msutwanta) finds out that her groom has gone missing. Elvis (Kenneth Nikosi), the husband-to-be, has gone to pick up his childhood friend and best man Tumi (Tsotsi‘s Rapulana Seiphemo), from hundreds of miles away. Winding their way through some of the country’s breathtaking landscapes, Elvis and Tumi come up against all sorts of comic obstacles, including redneck Afrikaners, goats, directional mishaps and accidents. They also cross paths with Rose (Venus‘ Jodie Whittaker, oozing charm) a free-spirited English
As a shocked and frazzled Ayanda wrestles with her own frustrations, the interjected opinions of her mother (Sylvia Mngxekeza) exasperate her, and the careful balancing act between commingled European and African marriage traditions seems ready to give way and come tumbling down. Finally, adding to Ayanda’s anxiety is the unexpected arrival of Tony (Mbulelo Grootboom), an old boyfriend for whom she may still harbor feelings.
The acting here is superb and all of a piece — the performers each have a keen sense of what sort of movie they are in, and calibrate their line readings and reactions accordingly. While some of its plot machinations are telegraphed, the dialogue and scene-to-scene moments are quite nice, and co-writer-director Jann Turner keeps the pace brisk and tone buoyant.
Housed in a regular snap-shut Blu-ray case, White Wedding hits the high-definition home video format of choice in 1080p 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track and English SDH and Spanish subtitles. Unfortunately — especially for a film of such naked exuberance — there are no supplemental bonus features, which dents its collectibility, and downgrades the movie to only being worth a rental for curious parties. To purchase the Blu-ray via Amazon, click here. The movie is also available via digital download. B- (Movie) C- (Disc)