Alles Wat Mal Is (All That is Crazy) (South Africa, 2014)

A housewife goes off the deep end and meets her conscience in this pretty funny Sollywood film from the director of The Lullaby.

Helena Joubert once was going to live the dream. However, she is now a housewife who is having trouble balancing life at home along with her job as a freelancer reviewing various home products. When her husband Gustav is set to invest in a new business called Greenkey, he plans to risk it all due to a hot tip from investor Elzaan. Helena has her doubts and when she sees Elzaan hit on Gustav, she loses it. Soon enough, she discovers her inner conscience has come to life with the decision to help her get back on track.

Inspired by everything she has gone through, she starts a lifestyle blog called “Alles Wat Mal Is,” in which she tries out new activities to feel alive again all whilst talking about life at home indirectly. When Gustav gets wind of the blog after discovering something was about him, he is upset at Helena and temporarily leaves. However, it doesn’t slow her down and she soon becomes the talk of the town. When she learns that Greenkey is a scam, she will stop at all lengths to convince Gustav not to invest or else they will lose everything.

South African cinema, or Sollywood, has always had a champion in Darrell Roodt. The director has delved into various genres of film, from action (To the Death), drama (Sarafina!) to even horror (The Lullaby). Here, he delves into the romantic comedy/self-discovery comedy genre with this film about a woman on a journey of self-discovery when she has lost her way due to everything happening so fast and finds herself digging a deeper hole until her conscience comes to life in her eyes and helps her on this journey.

Erica Wessels is great to watch as the miserable Helena, and her inner conscience. Wessels gets to show off that duality between losing it all and self-confidence. She also narrates the film as we learn about her dreams and how they all went to snuff after she married and became a mother. She finds a crutch not in her husband, but her maid Miriam, played by Meme Ditshego. Miriam is a great character who tries to help Helena find her way by taking care of the kids and giving her some great advice when needed. However, it is when we see Helena’s inner self take over with that joie de vivre where Helena finally decides to do something about her life and rediscovers herself through Miriam’s advice and doing various activities, such as pole dancing, to give advice on her new lifestyle blog.

Louw Venter makes the most of his comic wit and emotional range as Gustav, Helena’s business-minded husband who goes to great lengths to invest in a new company. His ideas do affect his marriage worse than ever before especially when there’s a hot tip involved from an investor who acts as a “femme fatale. Gustav only cares about business in hopes to make his family well off as he is the “breadwinner” while Helena is the one who makes some income by reviewing home products and having to meet a deadline does add more pressure to what she’s dealing with. It is when she starts her lifestyle blog that she finds herself at a comfort level of worrying about her own deadlines.

Where Meme Ditshego and Philicity Reeken’s Lerato (Miriam’s daughter) are the ones who help Helena and Gustav in their respectable places, Christina Storm’s Elzaan is the “femme fatale” who does all she can for Gustav to invest in “Greenkey”. It even takes Helena to talk to her prisoner father-in-law, played by Richard van der Westhuizen, to help her upon learning about the hard truth about why he is in prison, which involves a bad investment that resulted in an estranged relationship between him and Gustav. This leads to a comical chase sequence for Helena to get to her husband before he makes the biggest mistake of his life.

Wessels and Venter would reunite in the 2017 comedy Van Der Merwe, where they play Willem and Elmarie, the siblings of our titular Van, played by the hilarious Rob Van Vuuren.

Alles Wat Mal Is is a pretty fun journey of self-discovery for our protagonist as she finds her life slowly back on track thanks to her inner self and a great supporting character in their housemaid. There are some fun comic moments and a bit of an emotional roller coaster meshed in. An interesting but fun entry in Darrell Roodt’s fimography.

WFG RATING: B

A Karoo Film Company production. Director: Darrell Roodt. Producers: Christianne Benentto and Carmel Nayanah. Writers: Sandra Vaughan, Corine du Toit, and Hanli Rolfes. Cinematography: William Collinson. Editing: Byron Davis.

Cast: Erica Wessels, Louw Venter, Christina Storm, Meme Ditshego, Elzette Maarschalk, Chris de Clerq, Richard van der Westhuizen, Jacques Bessenger.

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