Movie Reviews

Smart Casuals Review: Ambitious Yet Uneven – A Tale of Two Johannesburg Couples

However, the abrupt shift in Bheka's behaviour lacks depth, revealing the writer's failure to convincingly portray Bekha’s character development.

Smart Casuals review
Smart Casuals cover [PHOTO CREDIT: Netflix]

In our Smart Casuals review, we delve into a Johannesburg love story tapestry, exploring themes of love, loss, and second chances for two couples navigating the complexities of modern relationships. In the vibrant backdrop of Johannesburg, ‘Smart Casuals’ weaves the tales of two couples navigating the complexities of love and commitment. Taki, a photographer, rethinks his aversion to commitment when he meets Tumi, prompting a profound reconsideration of his ideals. Meanwhile, Mahlatsi and Bheka’s relationship faces hurdles, including infidelity and postponed nuptials, ultimately culminating in Mahlatsi’s heart-wrenching decision to annul their engagement. As the couples’ stories unfold, ‘Smart Casuals’ explores themes of self-discovery and the harsh realities of love. ‘Smart Casuals’, A Netflix Film written and directed by Zwo Farisani (Make-Up and Cigarettes).

Plot

In the vibrant setting of Johannesburg, renowned as South Africa’s ‘City of Gold,’ two couples navigate divergent paths in pursuit of love. 

The first follows Taki, an accomplished photographer in his mid-thirties, staunchly avoids commitment, nonetheless revelling in the excitement of casual liaisons and not committing to anyone. However, his encounters take an unforeseen turn when he encounters Tumi, whose presence disrupts his world in unexpected ways, prompting a profound reconsideration of his idea of commitment. 

Meanwhile, Tumi finds herself in an open relationship with her boyfriend, which poses a challenge for Taki, who has recently realised his affection for her. Regrettably, Tumi’s relationship is fraught with difficulties, particularly her firm rejection of the idea of having children, resulting in an argument with her partner.

As Tumi and Taki attempt to define their relationship, an unexpected twist arises when Tumi discovers she is pregnant. However, this subplot feels underdeveloped, lacking coherence and ultimately halting their burgeoning love story prematurely. The omission of the boyfriend’s reaction to this revelation leaves a significant gap in the story which the writer initially portrayed to be quite pivotal in their relationship.

‘Smart Casuals’ introduces the relationship between Mahlatsi and Bheka through a pre-wedding interview, which initially appears as a reality show setup. However, the true purpose of the show remains unclear throughout the movie, leading to confusion among viewers. Despite enduring a steadfast twelve-year journey of love, Mahlatsi and Bheka face numerous obstacles, resulting in the postponement of their nuptials not once, but twice. Amidst wedding preparations, Mahlatsi discovers Bheka’s infidelity, which he attributes to her weight gain. This revelation significantly impacts their relationship. However, the abrupt shift in Bheka’s behaviour lacks depth, revealing the writer’s failure to convincingly portray Bekha’s character development.

Smart Casuals  Movie Review
A scene from ‘Smart Casuals’ [PHOTO CREDIT: Netflix]

Following numerous humiliations from Bheka, Mahlatsi chooses to annul their engagement, a decision that brings heartbreak to her but relief to Bheka. However, when Bheka shares the news with his mistress, he discovers her own infidelity. This turn of events, while potentially impactful, was left unexplored, contributing to the overall dissatisfaction with the storyline.

‘Smart Casuals’ wraps up with Mahlatsi still in the interview, discussing the significance of self-worth and self-discovery. While this scene could have been emotionally resonant, its impact is diminished due to the film’s poorly constructed narrative.

Cast

In ‘Smart Casuals,’  Angela Sithole skillfully portrays the character of Mahlatsi, making her performance the highlight of the movie and a compelling reason to watch. Terrence Ngwila’s portrayal of Bekha adds depth to the storyline.

Supporting roles are filled admirably, with Anga Makubalo as Taki and Mandisa Constable as Tumi, contributing to the overall richness of the cast. 

Smart Casuals  Movie Review
A scene from Smart Casuals [PHOTO CREDIT: SA Creatives]

Smart Casuals also features Llewelyn Cordier, Nyaniso Dzedze, and others.

Language

While English served as the primary language in ‘Smart Casuals’, the film also incorporated South African dialect, adding an authentic and culturally rich dimension to the narrative.

‘Smart Casuals’ delves into the intricacies of love and commitment through the journeys of two couples. While one pair embraces the prospect of a shared future, the other confronts the realisation that love may not align with their expectations. The film employs a fragmented narrative style, jumping between storylines with a frenetic pace.

However, despite its ambitious premise, ‘Smart Casuals’ struggles to maintain coherence, hampered by a lacklustre screenplay. The inclusion of numerous extraneous characters and scenes, such as the cub owner, Katlego, and Mahlatsi’s friend, detracts from the overall narrative cohesion.

Smart Casuals movie review
5.6
Review Overview
Summary

While the film aims for originality and relatability, these aspirations are hindered by lazy writing and unresolved plot threads. As a result, ‘Smart Casuals’ falls short of its potential, failing to engage viewers with its disjointed storytelling and underdeveloped characters.

  • Costumes6
  • Casting6
  • Plot4
  • Setting7
  • Story5
Watch 'Smart Casuals' on Netflix

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