Generic enough that a stateside remake would require only negligible Americanization, Jann Turner’s South African–set White Wedding charts the madcap events surrounding the nuptials of anxious Ayanda (Zandile Msutwana) and her sweet fiancé, Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi), who’s valiantly road-tripping across the country with lothario best friend Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo) to make the wedding. Theirs is a tale marked by wackily contrived impediments, which, for Ayanda, include the reappearance of a dashing ex, the pestering of her gay event planner, and a mother intent on staging a traditional ceremony—and, for Elvis, involve a lovelorn British hitchhiker, smooches from a goat, and a run-in with apartheid-loving (but surprisingly open-minded!) Afrikaners. Everything that could go wrong does, but director Turner never musters the requisite manic energy that might get her proceedings off the ground. Her film’s craziness feels forced, as do attempts to infuse Elvis’s race against time, and potential falling out with Ayanda, with dramatic urgency. Bookending platitudes about love provide a structural tidiness that extends to the recurring sight of two sets of mates dancing in the street and arguing over romantic betrayal, with Turner’s story confronting issues of fidelity, friendship, and tolerance via simplistic conflicts and resolutions. The South African scenery is nice, though.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 1, 2010