Director: Morne du Toit
Cast: Lida Botha, Mish’a el de Beer and Karen Fourie
Running time: 97 minutes
Release date: 23 December 2011
Age restriction: PG V
This is the review I have been dreading for the past month. As one of the few Jo’burgers that attended the preview screening, the likelyhood of alternatives to my review look slim, now this wouldn’t be a problem if this movie were good…unfortunately Hoofmeisie is possibly one of the worst films I’ve seen in a very long time let alone 2011.
Due to Hoofmeisie originating from South Africa, it was suggested that I offer a more lenient viewpoint. I’ve taken this point into consideration but came to reject it on the principle that a film, no matter its origin will be judged equally and Hoofmeisie is no exception.
Hoofmeisie (or head girl aka class president in the US) is a local South African film. At Stumbopops primary school, the battle for the position of head girl is a war waged between four girls and their overbearing mothers. A bully, a nerd, a beauty queen, and an orphan…an orphan? Apparantly in this film, being an orphan seems to be something of a social pariah, well Nadia is such a character, modest and meek and incidently, the main focus of the movie. Unknowingly thrust into the fray, Nadia must compete against her classmates for the coveted position of authority.
This film actually marks the first time this year that I wished that I wasn’t in the screening hall at the time. As much as I despised watching Breaking Dawn and Apollo 18, I never desired to leave out of sheer insurmountable boredom – the mental agony in this journey however drove me to checking my email during the film (a first for me). Firstly, Hoofmeisie’s grossly abrasive use of product placement may earn itself a place in some record book. The film in its entirety seems to have inadvertantly presented itself as shameless commercial ploy as an advert for candy, case in point being the title of the school itself. At first I thought that New Year’s Eve was the pinacle of product placement but at least it was somewhat subliminal. The message I get from Hoofmeisie is something like “We couldn’t get the funding to make this garbage so we had to get a sponsor and put it’s name everywhere we could”…one can only speculate.
But commercialism aside Hoofmeisie is genuinely a tasteless film of the lowest common denominator. The film is a chore to watch and seems more like a compilation of unimaginative gags incompetently assembled into what barely makes up a story. The plot is near indecipherable with the filmmakers delving into what one can only imagine to be non-linear storytelling at it’s utmost worst and ineffective. Were the film straight forward it may have been tolerable but the muddled architecture makes the film grating and traumatic to the senses.
Whatever attempts at humour it makes fall flat as do the actors portraying their bare-boned, stereotypical characters. Each an every character in this film is unbearably cliche with each performance worse than the next (and some the politically incorrect). Particularly of note are the mother figures, I can understand if the children are reduced to poor experience-based character archetypes but the adult performances are of sub-soap opera grade.
By the end of the movie, Hoofmeisie can only be described as bad pantomime. The entire product is made from a recipe of badness that should have been left on the cutting room floor. The concoction has everything: monotonous pacing, an absurdly convoluted plot, and forgettable characters, not to mention the embarrassing candy coated commercial covering. Hoofmeisie fails on virtually every level, but it gets a mark for putting it’s name on the cover sheet.
If you watch this, don’t be afraid to let me know what you think.