Film Review: Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief)

Feature image credit: National Film and Video Foundation

My expectations for this movie were extremely high. You know how people can sometimes sing the praises of a film, book, or play, but when you actually get to see or read it, you’re utterly disappointed? This was definitely not the case with Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief).

A part of the story

The film is set on the Cape Flats in South Africa in the 1960s and is based on the life of the scriptwriter, John W. Fredericks.

Abraham (A.B.) grows up alongside his friends Gimba, Gif and Shorty. Life on the Flats is rough and like many children in coloured communities, they grow up faster than they ought to. To protect themselves the foursome form a gang called The Young Ones. They become involved in all sorts of the wrongdoings and are instructed by adults (one in particular) to do the dirty work for them.

Later, now grown-ups themselves, they decide to break into a store, against their better judgement. For this crime A.B. and Gimba is sentenced to two years in prison. A.B. survives his time on the inside by writing letters for the other inmates and by entertaining them with his storytelling abilities. But back home his family has to endure great hardship.

My ruling

The characters are very credible, thanks to the exceptional acting of many, but in particular that of the main characters D.J. Mouton (A.B. when older), Austin Rose (young A.B.) and of course David Manual, the ex-inmate who played Gums, the gang leader in prison.

This film is brutal. People take what they want and do what they like to whom they wish when they want to. One cringes to think that these things actually took place and the last scene left me feeling numb…

About the Oscars

So perhaps Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief) will next year get the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. If not, it still remains a film that will provide insight and that will get the people of this country (hopefully, others too) to reflect. My final opinion? It’s impossible to watch Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief) and remain unmoved.

Click here to watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTr3ZNLJt-U

Video credit: David Max Brown on YouTube

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