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Tebogo Bore

It was on a Sunday afternoon that I found myself taking selfies in front of the poster of the local film, Happiness is a Four Letter Word. I was so excited. The film is an adaption of Cynthia Jele’s 2011 novel which won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book. Although I prefer reading the book before watching the movie, I decided to do things differently this time and I was not disappointed.
Happiness is a Four Letter Word revolves around the lives of three friends as they navigate their metropolitan lives in Johannesburg. Princess, played by Renate Stuurman, is a free-spirited art gallery owner and feminist who finds herself falling for a painter, Leo, despite her professed commitment issues. Mmabatho Montsho is back in front of the camera as the pedantic lawyer, Nandi, whose career seems to be leading her astray from the simple things she yearns for in her life. This circle of friends is completed by flamboyant housewife Zaza, played by Khanyi Mbau, who wrestles her way through the predicament of being married to a ‘tenderprenuer’.
This film is an authentic South African story that depicts the value of friendships, particularly among women, in a world dominated by a survival-of-the-fittest mentality. It’s refreshing to see black women on the big screen who are owning their lives and their sexuality while having to deal with baby-mama drama, loneliness and the r ... Read Full Review

It was on a Sunday afternoon that I found myself taking selfies in front of the poster of the local film, Happiness is a Four Letter Word. I was so excited. The film is an adaption of Cynthia Jele’s 2011 novel which won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book. Although I prefer reading the book before watching the movie, I decided to do things differently this time and I was not disappointed.
Happiness is a Four Letter Word revolves around the lives of three friends as they navigate their metropolitan lives in Johannesburg. Princess, played by Renate Stuurman, is a free-spirited art gallery owner and feminist who finds herself falling for a painter, Leo, despite her professed commitment issues. Mmabatho Montsho is back in front of the camera as the pedantic lawyer, Nandi, whose career seems to be leading her astray from the simple things she yearns for in her life. This circle of friends is completed by flamboyant housewife Zaza, played by Khanyi Mbau, who wrestles her way through the predicament of being married to a ‘tenderprenuer’.
This film is an authentic South African story that depicts the value of friendships, particularly among women, in a world dominated by a survival-of-the-fittest mentality. It’s refreshing to see black women on the big screen who are owning their lives and their sexuality while having to deal with baby-mama drama, loneliness and the reality of single motherhood.
The cinematography is meticulous and the local music soundtrack with artists such as Lira and Llyod Cele make the film especially memorable. The dialogue is witty and includes humorous phrases such as, “It starts with a pat on the back, then a nice pat on the leg and boom…you’re sweating in the bums,” in between the thoughtful soliloquies about duty, risk and work. Overall, the cast gives a solid performance which contributes to the warm reception the film has received.
Happiness is Four Letter Word is a charming film that viewers can definitely relate to in one way or another. It sparks some much needed self-introspection about; the friends with which you surround yourself; where you see yourself in the future; as well as highlighting the importance of giving and receiving love.

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