On the surface, Fanie Fourie's Lobola - which is available on VOD now - plays like a typical rom-com. Two people from different sides of the track fall in love but are hampered by circumstance and tradition. But scratch a little deeper and you'll discover a movie that is far more important and rewarding than you first think.
Written and directed by Henk Pretorius, the story follows Fanie (Eduan van Jaarsveldt), an unlucky-in-love Afrikaans and Dinky (Zethu Dhlomo) a beautiful Zulu.
Following a bet with his brother that he couldn't get a date to his wedding, Fanie approaches Dinky and strikes a deal: she'll accompany him to the wedding if he agrees to have lunch with her and her father. Sparks fly, they fall in love, they want to marry. The only obstacle in their way is the centuries-old tradition of lobola - the dowry to be paid by the man to the family of his fiancee.
So far, so conventional, you might say. Except you'd be wrong. While the movie contains many of the tropes expected of a typical love story, the narrative of the film is a metaphor for something much larger: how a post-apartheid South Africa can heal the scars of its troubled past.
At the wedding, Fanie's brother asks the photographer to cut Dinky out of the official photos because they "don't really know her", while during his first meeting with Dinky's father, Dumisane - played by the brilliant Jerry Mofokeng - Fanie talks about their "garden boy", who's actually closer in age to the father than an actual child.
It's language and action born out of ignorance; of years spent living in a country still scarred by division.
The two leads are superb. Van Jaarsveldt brings both humor and pathos to the role of the sweet-natured and miss-understood Franie, while Dhlomo is a revelation as Dinky.
But it's probably South Africa itself that is the biggest star of the movie.
Fanie Fourie's Lobola is a love letter to this most beguiling of countries. We're guided through a land that is as spectacular and diverse as the people who inhabit it, while the soundtrack buzzes and bounces to the beats of some of the country's most vibrant artists.
At it's core, Fanie Fourie's Lobola is a journey through the heart and soul of an evolving South Africa. It challenges the long-held customs, traditions and prejudices of the country with humor and lightness of touch. And like Fanie's passion for rebuilding damaged cars, so too, the filmmakers are saying, can South Africa be healed by love, care and patience.
It's a beautifully simplistic ideal.
Fanie Fourie's Lobola is available now on VOD and you can check out the trailer below.