Avie Luthra / South Africa / 2011 / 100 min
Is freedom an end in itself or is it pointless without the means to exercise it? In South Africa, two decades after apartheid, the black majority are still largely the impoverished underclass, which really begs this question. And it’s in this world of complex race relations which Avie Luthra’s film Lucky takes place. After the loss of his mother to AIDs, a young Zulu boy called Lucky (Sihle Dlamini) moves to the city to live with his uncle. However, after being neglected, Lucky develops an initially frosty relationship with an elderly Indian woman (Jayashree Basavaraj).
The first thing that should be said about the film is that it’s bleak. Painfully so at times. One scene in which the homeless Lucky steals a school uniform and spends the day in classes and playing football at lunch before being frog-marched out the gates is heartrending. The relationship Lucky and Padma develop despite the language barrier is beautiful and occasionally light-hearted but always barbed with melancholy. Yet what in many ways is most intriguing is the racial antagonism between the Black and Asian community with a distinct lack of European presence; a subtle nod to the fact that though apartheid is abolished in law, there’s still a tangible division. A well made film and an excruciatingly honest portrait of the ‘Rainbow Nation’.