It’s quite a convoluted way to get from Johannesburg to Cape Town; take a bus to Durbs, and drive via the Transkei and the Eastern Cape. But nevertheless, that’s what hapless Elvis and best man Tumi do in the South African road movie White Wedding. (I guess it wouldn’t be a road movie if they’d done the sensible thing and taken the plane….) Unfolding in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa – there’s even a Francophone character in there somewhere – it is of course inevitable that all these most complex of plans come undone. Will Elvis get to the church on time?
Let me say first up, that I loved 85% of this movie. Most of the time it’s spot on in its portrayal of the colourful clashes and cacophonous confusions of the new South Africa – racial, cultural, sexual, generational. But there are a couple of stereotypes that are so jarring, so offensive, it’s like any attempt to actually portray real people has been set aside in order to create a cartoon. Given the refreshing depth and honesty of the main black characters (and the foreign white hitchhiker), the gay wedding planner is simply an odious portrayal, and the depiction of Afrikaners as dumb, retrogressive hicks moves the film temporarily and unworthily into the realm of farce. Shame, really.