Movie Review: Cape of Good Hope

By Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D
Movie Magazine International
"Cape of Good Hope" is the small yet satisfying present-day South African film that tells the slice-of -life-stories of five colorful characters. Cast with all African actors, it is filmed in Cape Town and named after the animal shelter that brings the characters together. Rather than making issues like racial relations or war refugee status the focus, these themes are integrated into the engaging narratives.

Each of the five main characters has tragic circumstances to overcome. We witness the creative, intelligent, and at times humorous ways they face their struggles. Relationships between dogs and their people are featured, which got to me immediately. The pivotal character, Kate (Debbie Brown) is the founder of an animal shelter. Deeply flawed but very likeable, she chooses an emotionally unavailable married man as her boyfriend. We see her humiliated repeatedly by him only to return for more. We soon realize that there is something in it for her because it is comfortable for her to keep men at a safe distance.

Jean Claude (Eriq Ebouaney of "Lumumba") is the handsome and poetic war refugee from war-torn Congo who holds a Ph.D. in astronomy. We arenít given too much backstory but can only imagine what heís been through as a Congolese refugee. As a foreigner, he canít get a good job. He doesnít even own a bed, and sleeps on a cot outside in a dog pen at the animal shelter where he works. But his quiet confidence and enjoyment of small pleasures is moving. We are charmed by his gentle strength and intelligence, and his firm grip on his priorities of honor and connectedness with others. The character, Lindewe (Nthati Moshesh) sears into your heart; she is the single mother of an adorable young boy who was widowed when her husband was brutally murdered. She works as a domestic and attends college. She faces class and sexual abuse issues with her predatory boss. Sharifa (Quanita Adams) is the spirited young Muslim woman who is heart-broken because she and her husband Habib (David Isaacs) canít conceive. Morne (Morne Visser) is the appealing widowed veterinarian who lost his true love, but who yearns for companionship and believes it is possible to find love again.

"Cape of Good Hope" is writer- director Mark Bamfordís first feature film. He is the award-winning director of the acclaimed short, "Hero." His wife, Suzanne Kay is co-writer and producer. They recently moved to South Africa and became inspired to write this story through their volunteer work with children and refugees.

The more I think about "Cape of Good Hope," the more I admire it - the characters, the story and the acting. The characters are exquisitely realized with nuanced complexity and psychological sophistication. It is a realistic film about life. It shows there is redemption, and leaves you -- with hope.

In San Francisco, this is Joan Widdifield for Movie Magazine.
Air date: 11/16/05
More Information:
Cape of Good Hope
2004; Directed/co-written by Mark Bamford; co-writer Suzanne Kay; with Debbie Brown, Eriq Ebounay, Nthati Moshesh, Morne Visser, David Isaacs, and Quanita Adams