Knysna (South Africa, 2014)

Small town boy meets potential royalty in this hilarious Sollywood rom-com from the director of Die Pro.

Dolf Roos is a man who is there for his family in the small town of Knysna. He does odd jobs to make ends meet. From fishing for his uncle’s business to cleaning pools, he has been cleaning the pool at an empty house in the mountains for the past two years. However, when he decides to take a dip in the pool, he is completely shocked and smitten with a young woman who has occupied the house. Embarrassed, Dolf fears running into her again but does to apologize and eventually, she agrees to go out with him.

The woman in questions calls herself Dezi, but she is actually Stephanie, a fellow Afrikaner who is scheduled to marry the Prince of Liechtenstein in a month’s time. However, Stephanie finds herself unsure of whether she wants to live life as a potential royal. As she becomes more comfortable with being in Knysna and re-living her roots, she feels like she must tell Dolf the truth. Will Dolf be able to handle the truth, or will he lose the one person he has fallen in love with?

From Andre Velts, the director of Die Pro, comes this at times unconventional romantic comedy about small town boy meeting princess who wants to live a normal life away from the spotlight. The titular area in South Africa is quite modest like our lead character Dolf, wonderfully played by charm and comic wit by Neels van Jaarsveld. We see Dolf as a respected member of the town, being there for his family and besties Antoinette, Reynhard, and Bloesie. Dolf seems like a nice guy who wants to live the simple life and not worry about being in the spotlight but there is something deep within him that yearns to be out but fears the complications.

Marguerite Wheatley’s Stephanie is a future princess who years for a simple life, which explains her hiding in Knysna. While the first encounter is embarrassing, it gets more shocking when Dolf discovers she is actually from South Africa and can speak Afrikaans. The chemistry between van Jaarsveld and Wheatley is the heart of the film and the supporting characters are wonderful in their own way.

Kaz McFadden may be the younger brother of Dolf, but in pivotal moments he stands up as the one who gives Dolf the right advice when it comes to his struggles. Morné du Toit is just one of a few characters who bring hilarious comic relief as Reynhard with Juanita de Villiers acting ultra-cool as Antoinette, the local adult bookstore worker. Cintaine Schutte tries to play off the innocent look as Bloesie, nicknamed “Mrs. Reverend”, but like Dolf, Reynhard, and Antoinette, has something yearning to burst out. Julia Strijdom and Shaleen Surtie-Richards are hilarious as “Lady Di” and Gerda, the town gossips who are sometimes joined by the flamboyant Petrus, played by Terence Bridgett.

Special mention has to go to Pascal, played by Emile Hager, the film’s screenwriter. As Stephanie’s bumbling publicist, his job in the film is to look for her in Knysna, and mostly comes up flat. Of course, it’s clear that on the phone is Stephanie’s fiancée, Prince Rafael of Lichtenstein, played by Armand Aucamp. Hager is hilarious though as it is soon revealed he’s not all that and a bag of chips as he wants to be. Along with Reynhard, Lady Di, and Gerda, Pascal is actually a funny comic relief to the film.

Knysna is a fun and witty romantic comedy that does break from conventions at times, but thanks in part to the chemistry between leads Neels van Jaarsveld and Marguerite Wheatley as well as the supporting comic relief, this is a fun gem from South Africa.

WFG RATING: B+

kykNet Films presents a West Five Productions. Director: Andre Velts. Producer: Maynard Kraak. Writer: Emile Hager. Cinematography: Roscoe Verceuil. Editing: Layla Swart.

Cast: Neels van Jaarsveld, Marguerite Wheatley, Emile Hager, Morné du Toit, Juanita de Villiers, Cintaine Schutte, Julia Strijdom, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, Terrence Bridgett, Armand Aucamp.

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