Review by Dan Skip Allen
Alfred Hitchcock is widely considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. It's no wonder other filmmakers try to adapt his films in new and interesting ways. Noshipho Dumisa does just that. She put a very modern take on one of Hitchcock's best films ever, Rear Window. Number 37 takes place in South Africa, which changes the dynamic right from the get-go.
Randal (Irshaad Ally) is a paraplegic in a South African slum. His girlfriend (Monique Rickman) gives him a set of binoculars to help keep him busy while she's off at work. He uses the binoculars to spy on his neighbors across the courtyard. Lawyer (David Manuel) is a drug dealer who has dealings with corrupt police officers in his town. Randel sees Lawyer murder one of them through his binoculars and tries to extort him for money. Emmie (Danny Ross) is a loan shark. Randal borrowed money from him and he wants it back. Randal is in a tough situation with these two issues he has going on.
As an adaptation to Rear Window, Number 37 is a very effective film. It has a real gritty violent take to this classic story. The heat of South Africa is like a character in the film. It helps create a pressure cooker feeling to the story. A romantic subplot is very effectively woven into the film as well. This gives viewers stakes while watching the film. We feel invested in these characters and their plight.
South African films are usually foreign to Americans. Neill Blomkamp comes to mind when thinking of filmmakers from South Africa. After watching Number 37, I definitely would like to see more film's about and from South Africa. This is a country that there are plenty of stories yet to be told. Voices that come from underrepresented countries are always welcome in the film community. It means there are new films to be seen.
This film had very good performances from the entire cast. They all felt realistic to the characters they were playing. The grave nature and substance were felt very frequently. There was just enough blood and violence to make it a grave situation for everyone involved. This situation could legitimately happen in any town and any country, not just South Africa. This film was well thought out and directed. It ended up being an entertaining filmgoing experience. Nosipho Dumisa is a writer-director to watch for in the future.
Number 37 screened at the Urbanworld Film Festival which ran September 23-27.
One of the writers from disappointment media worked on a film playing as part of the Dances with Films Festival, but they were not involved with the writing of this review.