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Wednesday, November 11, 2020


This is an excellent movie, a must watch. (Review by Pranesh Maharaj. The film will feature on the programme of the European Film Festival which runs from November 12 to 22, 2020)

A character exists in filmmaking that cannot be found in the script, in dialogue nor seen in form on the screen. This is the lens of the audience, the observers. The world of a story is created in order to drown you into the midst of what’s happening on screen. Now, a film with a story like Becoming Mona will need that participation or the story cannot be told. If you are a fan of real long shots and fewer angle changes, then you are going to love what they have done here.

The easiest thing to do is rely on ‘Point of View’ angels to make the audience feel for that character, but you wouldn’t spot a single one in this film; and yet be able to see this story from Mona’s point of view.  One can almost picture the DOP and the Director’s conversations before casting; because it takes tons of professionalism and patients to achieve what they have in those long shots.

Mona seems to have the least amount of dialogue in this story, because when you watch this you are Mona. You are her hurt, her pain, her sorrows and her joys. The script was once a tree that was chopped down to make paper. If we forget that when we write, then we have denied ourselves our first observer. So, the writer carved away at this with the finest of his tools and then the finest among them came together to tell the story.

The little Mona is sitting below a dark staircase in her school uniform, soon to be freed by her mother to sit at breakfast. The family dynamics are exposed and short lived, when soon Mona’s mother dies in an accident. From comforting her father, to her siblings and her stepmother; the grown-up Mona is found living alone in a Junior Writer job and being ferried from one person’s problem to the next. All of which are made into her problem.

Her father’s death becomes some kind of closure for Mona. He made her feel loved and wanted. He made her know that he actually cared for her a lot the whole while. If one has ever had to break away, one would identify with this story. She walks out a gate in the end.

In post mortem, one might associate this final scene, in a strange and maniacal way, with Al Pacino’s final scene in Donnie Brasco. Without it being said, we knew that he was going to walk out that door and into his death. Mona walks out that gate and we don’t know. The technical and artistic expression of that final scene can be translated thus: It feels like you are asked to hold out your hands and a deck of cards are placed on them. You are to leave with that deck and play carefully.

The performances of the ensemble cast were of a very high standard all round. It’s easier to read subtitles and stay abreast with the happenings on screen as Dutch is very close to Afrikaans. This is an excellent movie, a must watch. – Pranesh Maharaj.

Becoming Mona can be seen from November 12 to 22, 2020, on the European Film Festival’s website. Click on the advert to the right of this article or visit