Desperate for things to watch in downtime whilst in Durban, seeing as SABC is absolute garbage with nothing but soap operas of various levels of production value and news in different languages occupying the prime time slots, we managed to borrow some movies. One of them was Leading Lady.
Leading Lady follows drama teacher and aspiring British actress Jodi Rutherford (Katie McGrath) who wants to be the lead actress in a romance film set during the Boer War. This leads her off to rural South Africa in the Free State province in order to prepare for her role. Along the way, she gets a lift from a black taxi, which is used twice in the film to great humorous effect. In the small town, she meets an Afrikaaner farmer, Kobus (Bok van Blerk) who is very stubborn and beset by drought and the possibility of having to sell his farm. They are opposites in all regards. The relationship between these two, which parallels the story of the film-within-a-film, except with the nationalities reversed, forms the crux of the film. This story, while predictable, is light hearted romance supported by an upbeat country style soundtrack. There is also a nice and clear, but not on the nose patriotic theme to the film which I found to be an appropriate touch that might be missed by some viewers.
The performances are mixed, with van Blerk,while the line delivery is fine, he is not that expressive, but the more experienced McGrath and van Rensburg delivered a more consistent and lively performance. The rest of the supporting cast give a solid performance. Visually, the film is fantastic when it’s in the rural South Africa portions of the film and expressive, if artificial seeming, which is perhaps the point, in the London segments.
Is Leading Lady the most original of romantic comedies? No. Is it the best romantic comedy? No. But it is a a nice, decently made and light hearted film that feels genuine and that has some sort of soul. I didn’t love it but it did make decent viewing, especially with nothing else to watch or do. Oh and parts of it are in Afrikaans so make sure the subtitles are working despite the fact that the film says it’s just in english.