There are only a few works able to capture the passion, sweat and sheer effort that goes into making a film. Leading Lady, Henk Pretorius’s latest comedicy effort, is unfortunately not one of these. In fact, despite largely being set in the sweltering plains of Pretorius’s native South Africa, not a single bead of sweat is seen in this harmless but ultimately empty romcom.
The story follows the lacklustre acting career of Jodi Rutherford (a well turned-out but dodgily accented Katie McGrath), who is struggling to secure a part in a new film about a Boer war heroine, despite dating her director (Gil Bellows). In order to more convincingly portray an Afrikaner woman, she flies to rural South Africa and immediately catches the eye of Kobus, the hunky local farmer (a monosyllabic Bok van Blerk). Their ensuing bland love story is told, as per the tradition of lazy romcoms, in a seemingly never-ending series of montages set to a saccharine soundtrack comprised entirely of Mumford and Sons-style folk ballads.
Few things in this film work, from the contrived and predictable plot to the intrusive score. The characters are ridiculous parodies: the overdressed city woman tottering about the wilderness in heels, the classless American hotshot and the brooding love interest whose emotional sensitivity is shown only through his solitary guitar playing. Kobus’s mother Magdaleen (Brüumilda van Rensburg) and her housemaid Sarah (Mary Twala) at least provide some comic relief and pathos to the overwhelmingly uninteresting – and overwhelmingly white – cast. There are some reasonably humorous moments, but not enough to make up for the terrible script. Cinematographer Trevor Calverley provides some lovely wide shots of the sunny veldt, but the overall look is as realistic as The Lion King.
Presenting picture-perfect views of both London and South Africa, Leading Lady provides a reasonably enjoyable 90-minutes of escapism and an effective tourism advertisement, but nothing more.
Leading Lady is released nationwide on 9th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Leading Lady here: