Enticing South African dramedy puts family relationships squarely in the spotlight.
by Jaco Lotriet
The complexities of everyday family life, through its trials and tribulations, is a relatable topic to everyone and one that happens to be beautifully depicted in this thought-provoking, quirky mix of intense character-driven drama, with a good measure of uproarious humour. From the pen of renowned award-winning producer Bianca Isaac, in her directorial debut, comes the film 3 Days to Go, through which she delivers a treasure-trove of life’s family-related intricacies, wrapped up in a storyline that is applicable to any culture or race. One might be forgiven for assuming that a story with a predominantly South African Indian cast, might focus on all the usual run-of-the-mill Indian idiosyncrasies, however, as is evident in this production, it is not necessarily the case.
Without delving into the storyline too much, it should be noted that the first 20 minutes of the movie needs one’s close attention, in that the main characters are introduced in fairly quick cuts, which also sets the tone of the film onwards. The audience is introduced to an extensive cast of characters, featuring a mixed oddball of eccentric, as well as emotionally strong ones, woven intricately into the storyline; immersing the audience in the Isaac family’s woes. Imagine the drama of 80’s sitcom Dynasty, with a slight dose of a light-hearted reality series, The Kardashians, and you almost have the Isaac family summed up, albeit with a strong South African flavour.
Centred around 5 very diverse siblings, comprising of 4 daughters and 1 son, the story unfolds into a peculiar unpredictability, with everyone’s issues in tow, all the while trying to reconcile their issues and differences within 3 days, following their fathers’ untimely death…
The audience is first introduced to principle character and middle daughter Janet Isaac, in a steadfast portrayal by well-known actress Leeanda Reddy of Isidingo fame, having also starred alongside Idris Elba, in Dark Tower. Janet had lost her husband in a tragic accident and lives with her parents, juggling her emotions between her unpredictable, loose-headed siblings, whilst desperately trying to keep the peace. Her teenage sister Kiara, played by dazzling newcomer Kiara Govender, also living with her parents, overcomes her grief by acting out in what can be best described as dry, side-splitting humour, especially during her delivery of her father’s eulogy… Popular radio and stage personality Jailoshini Naidoo plays Melissa Isaac, the 1st born. As a doting, motherly figure, disillusioned by her failing marriage, she expresses her sadness in a somewhat divergent manner that may not be so evident at first – despondent, yet amusing, she seems agreeable to everything. And everyone. Ultimately, it appears her greatest weakness is also her greatest strength, which shines through in a touching moment on screen, between her and onscreen daughter Candice, played by Zakeeya Patel.
As the only son and the apple of his mother’s eye, Riki Isaac, played by well-known actor, comedian and MC, Rahul Brijnath, has his financial success lead to excessive drinking, divorce, gambling and ultimately, debt. Former Isidingo – and 7de Laan actress Kajal Bagwandeen, in the role of egocentric Amy Isaac, the last born, ran off at a young age and married a man 10 years older than her. Faced with losing everything in the divorce and potentially having to move back home, Amy has concocted a plan to have a baby, to secure her future. Of all the siblings, she embodies the Kardashian-esque mentality most – somewhat disconnected from reality and materialistic to the extreme. Bagwandee also co-produced 3 Days to Go alongside Producer, Gregory Mthanji.
Bollywood heavyweight Lillete Dubey is the sole foreign actor in the film. Best known for her roles in captivating movies like Best Marigold Hotel, The Second-Best Marigold Hotel, Karl Ho Naa Ho and Monsoon Wedding, she lends a warm, memorable and graceful performance in her role as the Matriarch, Lakshmi Isaac. Always calm, always eloquent, she is the glue that holds everything together in the Isaac family’s crumbling reality; an anchor in the turmoil that unfolds, and befitting the stature of Dubey, being the legendary actress she is.
Three supporting performers further enhance the spectacle that is 3 Days to Go, each in their own unique way, on the side-lines, but still inherently central to the main cast of characters’ storylines. First, is the inimitable Tumi Morake, in the role of Babes – the ruthless, colourful loan shark, embroiled in Riki Isaacs’ gambling debt. The onscreen chemistry between the two characters offer a palpable mix of sheer shock, juxtaposed with tantalising humour – a common thread noticeable in some of the film’s other characters as well. Second, and more suggestive of the afore-mentioned Indian idiosyncrasies; serving as the definitive comic relief in the role of the over-the-top character Brahman, is actor Ashish Gangarpersad. Best-known for his role as Prada on South Africa’s favourite soap opera Isidingo, many don’t know his comedic side but yes, he does embody this trait, landing him the role which can be described as impetuous, at best!
Third, and in contrast to these supporting characters, we discover a mild-mannered, charming man, in the form of Oliver; love interest of main character Janet Isaac. Portrayed by ‘sexiest man alive’, Jonathan Boynton-Lee of Top Billing fame, the former catalogue and runway model is also an award-winning and multi-talented filmmaker in his own right. The character of Oliver initially seems somewhat out of place, as an outsider to the Isaac family. The dramatic turn of events between himself and Janet however, places him momentous to the eventual reconciling of the Isaacs family, culminating in the spine-chilling final scene, which is both emotionally moving, as it is spellbinding.
Jonathan De La Querra’s excellence as the film’s Director of Photography shines through, lending a remarkable litheness to 3 Days to Go; photographing a moving picture that translates into pure magic onscreen, bolstering the actor’s performances. The Score, by Benjamin Willems, is both contemporary and subtly Indian in nature, with Sound Design by Janno Muller.
3 Days to Go deserves all the accolades coming it’s way and is also deserving of an international audience. Boasting a most capable production team, combined with a sterling cast, this film showcases the best South Africa has to offer. Complex, smart, fast-paced and supported by a tight script, the movie is both engaging, as it is enthralling to watch.
The film was produced in association with the KZN Film Commission (KZNFC), the IDC and the DTI and was released in cinemas nationwide, on 25 January 2019 by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd.