Cast and scene from “White Wedding”
Groom and Best Man Get Waylaid En Route to Wedding in South African Romantic Comedy
By Kam Williams
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Ayanda (Zandile Msutwana) is frantically putting the finishing touches on her impending, dream wedding reception set to transpire in Cape Town in a couple of days. Unfortunately, the ravishing beauty just can’t help herself, as she acts out like your typical Bridezilla, much to the frustration of her miffed mother (Sylvia Mngxekeza) and her flamboyant event planner.
Meanwhile, the relatively-mellow groom, Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi), is 1,800 kilometers away in Durban, where he is set to embark on what he reasonably expects to be an unremarkable drive sitting astride his lifelong friend, Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo). However, upon arriving to pick-up his best man, he discovers the bon vivant in bed with three naked women. And although Elvis keeps his promise to Ayanda by declining the offer to participate in the impromptu bachelor party, the tone for their wild sojourn along the seacoast is nonetheless set.
Thus begins White Wedding, a wacky romantic comedy which might best be thought of as South Africa’s answer to The Hangover. The movie marks the auspicious writing and directorial debut of Jann Turner, who on a modest budget has managed to make the best road flick in the region since The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980). The movie’s title reflects the style nuptials bourgie Ayanda is arranging, one akin to Western traditions as opposed to honoring her and Elvis’ own indigenous culture.
In any case, it doesn’t take long to figure out how the plot is about to thicken considerably, for the focus soon shifts to an inebriated British woman crying on her sister’s shoulder in a bar about having just broken off her engagement to her philandering fiancé. Then, when even her sibling admits to sleeping with her ex, Rose (Jodie Whittaker) sets off on foot hoping to thumb a ride to the airport to catch the next flight back to England.
You’ll never guess who serendipitously encounter the hitchhiker while driving along the highway? Yep, our heroes. Over the vociferous objections of Elvis that the disheveled and disoriented white woman is bound to attract nothing but trouble for a couple of brothers driving a late model Mercedes, turned-on Tumi revels in their luck, and ushers her right into the car.
What ensues is a rollicking romp, during which both Tumi and Rose catch a serious case of Jungle Fever. As one might imagine, their mutual affection doesn’t sit well with everyone, such as the denizens of a redneck watering hole where a telltale Apartheid flag is still draped on the wall, sending a clear message to all who enter like the South African equivalent of a Swastika.
Between running from a lynching party and then having a car accident, Elvis has plenty of excuses for possibly arriving late to his own wedding. If only he could tell increasingly-impatient Ayanda the truth about all he’s been up to. Not to worry, our clever film director isn’t one to let anything really ruin a radiant bride’s big day.
The hangover must be crazy, if you catch my drift.
Excellent (4 stars)
In Zulu, Afrikaans, English and Xhosa with subtitles.
Running time: 93 Minutes
Distributor: The Little Film Company