TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Mlungu Wam (Good Madam)’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 10, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Mlungu Wam (Good Madam)’

Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) is a divorcee who finds her current living situation intolerable. Her only other choice to crash with her mother Mavis (Nosipho Mtebe), who is a live in maid in a white South African suburb. Tsidi, a Xhosa, tells her daughter Winnie the house rules, and Winnie (Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya) understands that they should live in the house as if they’re not even there. She can’t help but break her own rule though. After all, it is a strange house, with pictures of her late grandmother, Mavis’s boss Diane, of Black people and white people both separately and together. There’s the collection of African art from both sides of the Sahara. And the strangest thing is that the house is affecting Tsidi’s behaviour.

Director Jenna Cato Bass is the co-writer for Rafiki, and my dislike for that lesbian film might make people take away my gay card. Mlungu Wam is much better than that previous work, and it shows through the collaboration she embarked on with co-writer Babalwa Baartman and the whole cast. The more I think of the digital cinematography, the less I like it. However, they could easily reason the aesthetic garishness to highlight just how the parts of that house simply don’t fit in a post-Apartheid South Africa. A Black South African maid working for a white woman in 2021 in a horror film makes the former’s family ask questions. And there are a few answers to that. The film answers them and justifiably so.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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