Catching feelings: film review

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A Johannesburg-based husband (Max) and wife (Sam) feel stuck in their humdrum life. When a famed writer comes to speak at the husband's university, his pleasure-seeking ways influence the couple's behaviour, and their lives are completely uprooted.

Catching feelings launched globally on Netflix on 18 May 2018.

It’s a beautifully shot, warm and fuzzy love letter to Joburg. Joburg is, as a matter of fact, the strongest and most interesting character in the movie. The rest pale in comparison, unfortunately. Max is neurotic, charmless and annoying. Kagiso Lediga can’t quite immerse himself in the character, either. You expect Kagiso, the comedian, to crack a grin at any point.

Sam, his dutiful wife, is without agency, and Pearl Thusi is, one, shamefully underused and, two, utterly exploited for her looks. There are countless unnecessary scenes of her in underwear.

The smaller characters are more interesting, but not utilised. Most of their stories are not even resolved by the end of the film.

The film treats its women shamefully. There is the loyal wife who, for the most part, accepts her husband’s bad behaviour. There is the bored white housewife who starts an affair with a dashing black man. Don’t get me started on the angry lesbian who hates men, or the vacuous party girls who freak out when Heiner has a heart attack. They must call the other man in the house? Really?

Max is convinced Sam is going to cheat on him because he, a man, brought another man, a wolf, into their house. As if it is not up to her, as if his presence is the only thing that will prevent her from falling into the arms of another man. Really? It is also quite unclear whether Max really learns his lesson and changes this attitude towards the end of the film. (Spoiler alert.) He still thinks, after everything he has done, that he can win her over with concert tickets. She is that pliable.

It is billed as a romantic comedy with some social commentary thrown in. Sure, there is some romance and some comedy and some comments on race, class, etc, but it is all stereotypical and forced. Kagiso Lediga (writer, director, star of the film) tries too hard with the script, which leaves the film with an identity crisis and the dialogue somewhat stilted. There are senseless cameos by Loyiso Gola and others. It is way too long at two hours, there are too many unresolved stories at the end, and what the point of the film is, is unclear.

Catching feelings is, at best, a 6 out of 10.

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