Seun: 81457397BG (South Africa, 2014)

From the director of Sarafina and The Lullaby comes this emotional and gut-wrenching tale of a young man whose return from the war has dire consequences.

Paul van Rensburg has returned home to the Karroo. However, in two months, he must enlist in the South African Army due to conscript. Upon his return home, he reunites with his father Johannes and mother Aletta. He also reunites with childhood friend Anna-Marie, who soon becomes his true love. As the two begin a relationship, he must inform her that he will be enlisting in the Army and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. When Paul enlists, he is sent to the Angola border, where he awaits instructions and waits on the battlefield.

The war wages on and Paul is in the middle of battle. When he saves a fellow soldier’s life, an explosion lands Paul in the hospital. Paralyzed from the neck down, Paul is sent home. There, he finds a new brand of war, one in which he now must fight within himself. With no possible way to help himself, Paul must rely on his parents for help, but it eventually proves to be too much for the couple as well as Anna-Marie. Paul now finds himself in the battle of his life once again, only this time, he may not survive.

Darrell Roodt, one of South Africa’s celebrated filmmakers, co-wrote and directed this film about struggles and consequences, both in and out of the battlefield. The titular “seun” (son in Afrikaans) is the one who faces the battles head on but aside from the soldiers during the 1980’s Angola Border Wars, we see the battles at home after the fact due to the consequences of our central character Paul from the war.

Deanre Reiners, who appeared three years later in Roodt’s horror film The Lullaby, gives a powerful performance as Paul, the titular “son” who starts out happy but at the same time worried because just when he has fallen in love, he must leave her behind due to his conscript in the South African Army. The first act sees Paul excited to be home and make the most of his time after returning home but knows he must prepare to leave again. His chemistry with Candice Weber, as girlfriend Anna-Marie, is done very well as the characters look like they really love each other.

Chris de Clerq and Elzette Maarschalk are excellent as Paul’s parents. The parents are opposites somewhat, with de Clerq’s Johannes fully supporting Paul in the opening act while Maarschalk’s Aletta is very worried about her son’s upcoming conscription in the Army. When they see Paul post-war and paralyzed and in a wheelchair, their relationship is truly tested. Aletta is hellbent on protecting her son and taking care of him, while Johannes finds himself constantly tested. The final ten minutes take a very shocking twist and is a bit jaw-dropping, but shows the struggle reaching its breaking point.

Seun: 81457397BG is emotionally gripping and gut-wrenching from the second act on and yet the first act has a really good buildup with Deanre Reiners giving an amazing lead performance and the supporting cast doing excellent jobs here. Another Darrell Roodt winner of a film!

WFG RATING: A-

A Karoo Film Studios production. Director: Darrell Roodt. Producers: Christianne Bennetto and Diony Kempen. Writers: Darrell Roodt and Sandra Vaughn. Cinematography: William Collinson. Editing; Byron Davis.

Cast: Deanre Reiners, Chris de Clerq, Elzette Maarschalk, Candice Weber, Chante Hinds, Johan Hanekom, Daniel Christian Esterhuyse, Ben Bruwer, Hentie Wiese, Wilna Bruwer, Edwin Gagiano.

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