Mnet Monday night Drama: Disgrace

One thing about Disgrace (an adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s book) is sure: By no means is it an easy watch. It gives a shockingly real glimpse of the dark reality of the current state of affairs of both rural and urban South Africa – a reality that should strike frighteningly close to home to those willing to face the film's interesting debates about sexual dominance, interracial tension and uncontrollable lust, to name but a few.

Interwoven with these themes one will find a riveting character study in the form of a flawed Cape Town professor (played with immense skill by John Malkovich) who finds himself unable to come to terms with his daughter's total willingness to accept her dire circumstances – a fact that becomes very ironic when one considers his own shortcomings and wrongdoings, which he is very well aware of.

The rest of the ensemble cast also contributes greatly to the movie’s emotional resonance, as they all play their characters with conviction and sensitivity to the context of the movie. Special mention must go to Eriq Ebouaney (Kingdom of Heaven, Hitman) for his spot-on depiction of a rural farm worker who serves for much of the movie’s best scenes, as he quietly contributes to the protagonist’s sense of helplessness to change his daughter’s circumstances.

The movie also benefits from some amazing cinematography, giving the rural landscapes of the Eastern Cape a chilling, cold feel even though the movie takes place during the summer months. This, along with other small touches serves as a testament  to the lengths that Director Steve Jacobs (Beethoven, Robo Cop 3)  must have gone to in order to properly research South Africa as the setting for this dark masterpiece.

'Disgrace' is as infuriating as it is revealing, making it a bitter pill that many South Africans won't want to swallow - this is however the greatest compliment one can give this thought provoking film. 

Highlight: Near the end of the movie, Malkovich once again helps out his veterinarian friend with her daily duty of putting out homeless dogs. This time however, his willingness to help signifies a dramatic change in his disposition – he has accepted his and his daughter’s fate.

Welcome to South Africa, John. You're lucky you made it out alive!

Rating: 4-and-a-half Meerkat Tails


  1. The book was a gem. The movie was a nightmare. I just wanted to give John Malkovich a klap deur die gesig. Why can't we South Africans tell our own stories? This was such a dissapointment.

  2. You raise a valid point about the fact that an American was chosen for the role, but don't you think that Malkovich did a stunning job? Who would you have liked to see in the role?

  3. @anon

    It's because when we south africans try to film something it ends up looking like horse shit. Seriously, you can tell something on TV is south african within 5 seconds just by looking at the camera placement.

  4. Haha! A bold statement, but I'm going to have to agree with you on that for the most part... There are exceptions to this though...

  5. It always comes down to the same thing - money. Money chooses the Who and the How. As South Africans we've almost never had the financial means to make a movie of international quality never mind being able to decide who gets the lead.

    It's also about who puts bums in seats.

    Most production houses want stars because that's what brings in the punters. We're talking fiscal realities here my friends, not artistic integrity. But as CM says, we could do alot worse than dear old John Malkovich.


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