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Movie Review

White Wedding

‘Wedding’ joins plot and twists

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By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / October 8, 2010

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You don’t mind some of the more obvious writing on the way to wherever “White Wedding’’ is going — which is no place new or unexpected. The movie, from South Africa, is charming and its characters’ feelings sincere enough. It’s just so cluttered. This is a movie so excited to exist that it overwhelms you with plot. Sitting through it is like opening the door to an overloaded closet. Stuff just tumbles out. The men are mostly sexy. Why not overwhelm us with that?

In any case, it looks like the groom, Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi), who’s already missed his bachelor party, might also miss the ceremony. The bride, Ayanda (Zandile Msutwana), has tasked him with driving to a remote village to fetch her ancient grandmother. The ceremony is in Gugulethu, a township outside of Cape Town, but Elvis starts his journey in Durban, which is on the other side of the country. He and his best man, Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo), have a fight over Tumi’s woman problems. They continue their bickering in front of the self-pitying British tourist (Jodie Whittaker) who’s just appeared in the back seat of their SUV. Meanwhile, Ayanda fends off (barely) a conceited ex (Mbulelo Grootboom) who’s just returned from America and winds up paying for the wedding gown.

In a moment of explosive frustration, Elvis recites the movie’s many mishaps, which include convenient automotive trouble. Actually, he loses it before the trip to the white-racist soccer pub, the stay at one racist’s home, and the goat. It’s a long story, and there was probably a way to make it all work. But director Jann Turner, who wrote “White Wedding’’ with Seiphemo and the wonderfully impassioned Nkosi, uses the mess to make points. The movie addresses changing cultural traditions, lingering white, post-apartheid resentment, and the fickleness of yuppie-class stability, while celebrating the multilingual splendor of her country and, sigh, wrangling that goat. It’s a happy movie, yes. But it’s as likely to impart a headache as it is to warm your heart.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wesley_morris.

WHITE WEDDING

Directed by: Jann Turner

Written by: Turner, Rapulana Seiphemo, and Kenneth Nkosi

Starring: Nkosi, Zandile Msutwana, Jodie Whittaker, and Seiphemo

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 95 minutes

In English, and in Xhosa, Afrikaans, and Zulu, with English subtitles

Unrated (some sexual situations, language, and cartoonish post-apartheid racism)

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