Die Pro (2015)

A young man seeks to come to terms with what’s happened in this fun and at times emotional South African film based on a novel.

Tiaan Nothnagel has had the time of his life since learning how to surf from his best friend Dirkie Lawrence. However, one fateful summer, Dirkie accidentally drowns while looking for a major wave. When the school year starts, Tiaan makes it clear he has no intention to ever surf again. When Yvette, Dirkie’s twin sister, asks Tiaan to train her for the upcoming Wave-Seekers tour, he makes it clear he doesn’t want anything to do with the waves again.

The school year becomes a bit tumultuous for Tiaan. He does find a reliable friend in school psychiatrist Geyer. When newcomer Hermann comes to the school, Tiaan makes a new best friend. Yet, he still finds himself at odds with bad boy surfer and classmate Dustin Jackson, an arrogant pompous man who only wants action with Yvette. Tiaan must comes to terms with the fact that Dirkie’s death wasn’t his fault and overcome his demons to not only attempt to help Yvette live her dream but find his passion for surfing once again.

Based on a novel by Leon de Villiers, this is a very well-made South African film from director Andre Velts that has a few of the teen movie tropes but tends to amp up the emotional factor when the script calls for it. The story of a young man and his attempt to comes to terms with his friend’s death (and his guilt for it) is powerfully done thanks to the amazing cast, who despite their character backgrounds, find a way to mesh really well with no sense of being forced whatsoever.

Edwin van der Walt is excellent as Tiaan, whose surfer attitude may have gotten the best of him, but its his loss of passion that in some peoples’ eyes, makes him an even more rebellious one. We do see glimpses of Tiaan finding a shred of happiness when it comes to meeting new girl Jazmine, played by Zakeeya Patel, and meeting new friend Hermann, the comic relief of the film played by Bennie Fourie. He also finds a confidant in school psychologist Geyer, played by Neels van Jaarsveld. What’s great with this character is that have a small subplot involving Geyer that proves vital to Tiaan’s road to finding himself again.

The other primary focus of the film is the character of Yvette, played by Reine Swart. She gives off an emotional performance as a woman hellbent on living a dream for both her and her late brother, played in the opening and sporadic flashbacks by Vilje Maritz. Yvette is the “underdog” of the film as we see her bust her tail to learn to surf so she can be a part of an upcoming summer tour known as the Wave Seekers. We temporarily see her with bad boy Dustin, played by Arno Greeff, but through a good portion of the film, she is training herself and improves quite well until the third act of the film features a predictable twist that of course is the heart of the film. Swart and van der Walt have this natural chemistry of guy and sister of best friend that has this romantic tension and it’s clear that something predictable is in store. But the heck with the predictability. This is about dreams and coming to terms to get the passion in something you love back.

Die Pro has the fun tropes of a teen movie but at the same time has a very powerful dramatic edge to the story, all driven by the performances of leads Edwin van der Walt and Reine Swart. It is films like this that makes South African cinema one that needs more love these days.

WFG RATING: A+

Kyknet Films presents a Hoofkantoor Produksies film. Director: Andre Velts. Producers: Tiaan van Niekerk, Annelie Bouwer, and Starlyn George. Writer: Tiaan van Niekerk; based on the novel by Leon de Villiers. Cinematography: Eduan Kitching and Wayne de Lange. Editing: Linsen Loots.

Cast: Edwin van der Walt, Reine Swart, Vilje Maritz, Neels van Jaarsveld, Bennie Fourie, Arno Greeff, Albert Maritz, Zakeeya Patel, Morne du Toit, Marcel van Heerden, Helene Truter, Dorette Potgieter.

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