By BRUCE DENNILL
3 Days To Go / Directed by Bianca Isaacs / 13DLV
There are many, many examples of screen dramas centred around the reunion of a dysfunctional family under trying circumstances, with the bulk of the plot following the playing out of various scenarios influenced by the relationships between the relatives. Writer-director Bianca Isaacs’ tale concerns a South African Indian clan who gather at the old family home after the death of their father and husband. Their forced proximity means that the keeping of everyday secrets – an unhappy marriage; emotional insecurity; an addiction to gambling – becomes impossible and, with there being a three-day period before the patriarch’s ashes are scattered, backing out of the awkward situation is not really an option.
Isaacs ensures that a good pace is maintained and some slick, split-screen editing, if a little over-used in one or two areas, helps to keep viewers in touch with the many divergent perspectives. There’s not too much in the way of fresh depictions of the threads the film covers via the different individuals, couples and families involved, other than there being a couple of cultural details that Indian audiences will identify with and others may be interested in. But, while safe, the narrative ticks over well enough, and there are some strong performances from Leeanda Reddy as Janet, ostensibly the family’s voice of reason, though she has her own shortcomings; and Lillette Dubey as the matriarch Lakshmi, particularly in the second half of the film, when she (the character) is forced to concede that her long-held opinions about the way things should work in her family may need updating.
This is low-risk fare, though there are some emotive insights into abusive marriages and accepting troubled individuals for who they are. And the Durban setting shows off a South African city not often given much time on the big screen.