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The Furnace

South Africa 2019
produced by
Andre Frauenstein snr, Samuel Frauenstein, Pieter Du Plessis (executive), Gloedland Group (executive), Andries Brink (executive), Civilconsult (executive), Lester Din (executive), Riaan De Lange (executive), Arthur Crewe (executive), Werner Pretorius (executive), Elmarie Petorius (executive), Henry Venter (executive), Vanessa Venter (executive), Nadia Scott (executive) for Valhalla Productions, Phoenix Films
directed by Darrell Roodt
starring Jamie Bernadette, Luthuli Dlamini, Laura Linn, Thandi Puren, Armand Aucamp, Craig Gardner, Lena Ferugio, Charlie Bouguenon, Pieter Louw, Justin Strydom, Bonnie Lee Bouman, Kika Smit, Lindiwe Ndlovu, Mari Louise Gouws, Diaan Daniels, Alroy Dixon, Firdous Asmodien, Jan Bruwer, Llewelyn Cordier, Monique Best, Anastasia Ferrara
written by Darrell Roodt, music by Alun Richards

review by
Mike Haberfelner

For Christmas, Matt (Armand Aucamp) gives his wife Mary (Jamie Bernadette) a pair of trainers ... and a ticket to South Africa, where they're take part in "The Furnace", the toughest race there is, as it takes its participants through the South African wild in ever changing weather conditions, with about the length of a marathon between watering holes. As the two are passionate and well-trained runners, this shouldn't be too big of a challenge though - but it should never be, as the two get into a car accident on Christmas Eve, which kills Matt and gravely injures Mary.

At first, Mary, now pretty much tied to an oxygen tank and hardly able to exercise, is about to give everything up - when she makes the acquaintance of Coffin (Luthili Dlamini), a gravedigger who had once been a doctor in South Africa, and he pretty much trains her back to health, gets her through some exercise, helps her breathe without her oxygen tank - and eventually even encourages her to take part in a race ... which almost kills her, and prompts Mary's father (Craig Gardner) to lie to Coffin that she has actually died and give him a one-way ticket back to South Africa - which Coffin accepts, fearing legal action.

Months later, Mary, now in better shape than ever, tracks down Coffin and asks him to train her for the Furnace. Coffin initially refuses but is no match to Mary's stubbornness, so he trains her, not so much physically but mentally.

The first few days go reasonable well, with Mary even finding a running partner in Raphaella (Laura Linn), but eventually the scorching heat, pouring rain, a (non-lethal) scorpion sting, and several animal attacks sure take their toll on Mary, so much so that she's eventually considered missing - and the race promoters are unable to find her ...

 

The Furnace is quite simply a powerful film - and even if you're (like me) not really into running: Now of course, the film is highly metaphorical, but it works because the metaphors are not hammered home and don't stand in the way of compelling storytelling, which in turn is carried by impressive locations, with great camerawork getting the most out of them, while the directorial effort puts a heavy emphasis on atmosphere. And then there's of course the amazing central performance by Jamie Bernadette, who gives her role just the right physicality and emotional depth to make her utterly palpable, and who's leading a very solid cast.

A pretty awesome movie actually - but be prepared, you're more than likely to shed a tear or two ...

 

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD