×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fynbos

There is more mood than matter to appreciate in "Fynbos," a low-key suspenser that masterfully sustains tension with elliptical storytelling and evocative atmospherics, but ultimately comes across as all buildup and no payoff.

With:
With: Warrick Grier, Jessica Haines, Susan Danford, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Cara Roberts, John Herbert, Chad Philips.

There is more mood than matter to appreciate in “Fynbos,” a low-key suspenser that masterfully sustains tension with elliptical storytelling and evocative atmospherics, but ultimately comes across as all buildup and no payoff. Despite ace production values — lensing and sound design are particularly effective — this South African-produced pic isn’t likely to travel far beyond the global fest circuit.

Opening scenes establish the mental instability of Meryl (Jessica Haines), who fakes her own mugging for unexplained reasons, strongly suggesting that nothing else she recounts, not even the brutality of her husband, Richard (Warrick Grier), which she references in her journal, should be accepted at face value.

Still, it’s easy to believe Richard, an insolvent real-estate developer, is capable of violent rages, given his steadily increasing stress as he attempts (and fails) to hide his desperation while trying to unload the Fynbos Estate, a luxurious glass house and surrounding land near a remote township. Hoping to sell the place to two Brit siblings (Susan Danford, John Herbert), he invites the pair to spend the night at Fynbos with him, Meryl, part-time house-sitter VJ (Chad Philips) and VJ’s brazenly sexy girlfriend Renee (Cara Roberts).

Richard is so intent on closing the deal that he’s slow to react when Meryl disappears from the secluded estate. That, or he hesitates to call the cops because, for one reason or another, he doesn’t want her to be found.

All the lead players convey intriguing ambiguities, some more intriguing than others, while Sthandiwe Kgoroge makes the most of a key supporting role — a politely inquisitive police officer — by hinting that she, too, may be holding a few cards close to her vest. Pacing is aptly deliberate, as helmer Harry Patramanis, working from a spare script he co-wrote with Jonathan Kyle Glatzer, makes efficient use of pregnant pauses and ambient sound.

Ultimately, however, “Fynbos” doesn’t come to a conclusion so much as simply end, abruptly, in a manner certain to frustrate auds who get caught up in its idiosyncratic rhythms.

Fynbos

South Africa

Production: A Four Letter Word production. Produced by Eleni Asvesta. Co-producers, Stefanos Fotiadis, Marios Fotiadis, Philip Key. Directed by Harry Patramanis. Screenplay, Jonathan Kyle Glatzer, Patramanis.

Crew: Camera (color), Dieter Deventer; editor, Yorgos Mavtopsaridis; music, Coti K.; production designer, Jeremy Argue; costume designer, Diana Cilliers; sound, Leandros Ntounis; stunt coordinator, Anthony Mo Marasi; associate producer, Hofmeyr Scholtz; assistant directors, Emmanouela Fragkiadaki; Westley Durand; casting, Moonyeenn Lee. Reviewed online, Houston, Jan. 20, 2013. (In Slamdance Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Warrick Grier, Jessica Haines, Susan Danford, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Cara Roberts, John Herbert, Chad Philips.

More Film

  • Breaking Glass Snags Prizewinning Argentine Gay

    Ventana Sur: Breaking Glass Snags Argentine Gay Drama ‘Marilyn’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a last-minute deal inked at Ventana Sur, Breaking Glass Pictures (BGP) snapped up North American rights to gay-trans drama “Marilyn,” the feature debut of Argentine helmer-scribe Martin Rodríguez Redondo. The Philadelphia-based company has been on a mini-buying spree, having previously snagged threesome drama “We Are Three” at the Buenos Aires confab. BGP has bought [...]

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda

    Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda Team on ‘Mental Health Not Included’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — In a return to film production after serving as president of Argentina’s National Institute of Film and the Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and then as a member of parliament, film producer Liliana Mazure is teaming with prestigious counterparts in Mexico and Brazil on a three-part, pan-regional dark comedy, “Mental Health Not Included.” Lead [...]

  • IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent

    IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent Up Next

    The International Film Festival and Awards Macao and Variety combined forces for the second year running to put a spotlight on Asia’s acting talent. A well-attended meet-the-stars press event on Friday afternoon in Macau was addressed by leading local official, Maria Helena Senna de Fernandes. She turned the microphone over the five actors from different [...]

  • Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de

    Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de la Rosa’s ‘Mario’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — One of Mexico’s highest-flying production houses whose latest movie production, “I’m No Longer Here,” screens as a work on progress at Ventana Sur, Gerardo Gática and Alberto Muffelmann’s Panorama Global, will produce “Mario,” a bio series directed by Bernardo de la Rosa which underscores Latin America’s building drive into bilingual, bi-country U.S.-Mexico [...]

  • Backtrace Review

    Film Review: 'Backtrace'

    “You can’t kill me! I died seven years ago!” It’s very much to the credit of Matthew Modine that he persuasively sells this melodramatic scrap of dialogue, and every other aspect of his trickily written lead character, in “Backtrace,” a better-than-average VOD-centric thriller that likely wouldn’t work nearly so well without the veteran actor’s totally [...]

  • Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    Film News Roundup: 'Lawnmower Man' Director Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Elijah” gets a director, a French fry documentary starts shooting and “Uglydolls” moves its release date forward. PROJECT LAUNCH Brett Leonard, best known for directing ”The Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity,” will direct the supernatural feature film “Elijah,” based on the Old Testament prophet. More Reviews Film Review: 'Backtrace' Broadway Review: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content