Losing Lerato - A Review

Very few men today who have fathered children in relationships that ultimately did not work, never had to fight for access to their offspring. The child is often used as a pawn in their parents’ bitter battle and mostly as a conduit of pain for the losing party.

Kagiso Modupe’s three-year old project in the making, Losing Lerato, set out to advance cognizance of this problem and highlight the many things going wrong in society today that none is opening up to have a conversation about. His work with a non-profit organisation for socially responsible men, Brothers For Life, proved in fact to be the point of departure for this project.

A self-funded project, Losing Lerato tells the story of a young, Black man Thami (Kagiso Modupe) whose corporate career is one directional, upwards and beyond question; successful. This success is however short-lived as the company of his employ nose-dives, taking him down with it. He is left existing on the edges of his former self, barely surviving each day. His wife, Noluthando (Samela Tyelbooi) whose life has distinctly been a display of her luxurious taste; divorces him and takes full custody of their only daughter Lerato (Tshimollo Modupe). This is followed by Thami’s deliberate and utter exclusion from his daughter’s life at Noluthando’s hands, exacerbated by his inability to provide for her. Thami subsequently takes matters into his own hands and takes his daughter out of school to leave and live with him.

What follows are scenes that evoke memories of Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happiness as Thami spends a night with a hungry Lerato in a public lavatory, spectacularly failing to garner the expected audience response without feeling like they’re watching a rerun of Smith’s masterpiece. On Thami’s heels is the sassy and toughened Detective Nkala (Nolo Phiri) whose storyline was in fact the only to draw genuine attention without leaving the audience feeling like it lived through recycled emotions.

A great star studded attempt by Modupe considering the personal sacrifices and losses towards the fruition of this project but a dismal script choice for a debut project. While he had the backing of the services of the best performers there are in the industry, all were failed by the poor nature of the storyline and even the very little communication there was between the title and the movie itself. One could not help but cringe as the best this industry has to offer delivered very washy lines at every turn, under what was perhaps equally challenged direction. The movie did very little to evoke and energize the audience and perhaps live up to its hype and can only indeed be praised for its fantastic trailer and Modupe’s efforts if anything. It should also be said that the movie equally failed to capture Modupe’s perhaps most important intentions, the need to highlight the plight of children entangled in feuds between their parents and their use as ordnances in fights against one of their parents.

* Losing Lerato opened on September 13th at Ster-Kinekor theatres.