VIFF 2013: Felix

Monday 30th, September 2013 / 17:55

FelixThis is a surprising movie. It’s very light, definitely a family movie, but not in a pandering or patronizing sense.

The story is wholesome and uplifting. It follows 13-year-old Felix Xaba, played with megawatts of endearing charisma by Hilyani Jr Mabasa. He lives in meager conditions in Cape Town with his mother (Linda Sokhulu) and two younger siblings (Elvis Mahomba and Okwethu Banisi). He has a passion for music and is a great talent on the pennywhistle. When he gets accepted for a scholarship to a prestigious private school, his protective mother urges him to spend less time on music and more time on his schoolwork, lest he end up like his father. As Felix finds out, his father was once a famous jazz musician as part of a Cape Jazz group called the Bozza Boys, but he succumbed to issues with alcohol. As the school jazz concert approaches, Felix wants to play the saxophone just like his father, but has to learn to read music and play classical jazz in time for the auditions. He begins to practice without his mother’s knowledge and eventually he has to choose whether to obey his mother or follow his gift and honour his father.

The biggest strength of this film is the charisma of all the young actors. They are cute without acting cutesy, and the three siblings have such a rapport and ability to emote through the eyes. At times racial and class issues come up, but not in an overtly threatening way, and not in such a way that it overtakes the story. And the music – if you don’t leave the theatre with a smile on your face and your toes tapping, then maybe you should get your heart checked.

Showing at the Rio Theatre on October 5 at 6:30 p.m. and on October 8 at 1:30 p.m.

By Carly Smith


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