From the moment I saw the circular camera movement of the conversations-with-friends scenes and the rich tones of the club scenes, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a Love Jones in Joburg.” It was refreshing to see.
Of course, when most people think of South Africa in media, Apartheid dominates the conversation. And while those stories are significant and valid, so are the lighthearted, complex and personally dark stories of everyday people living their lives.
Directed by (and starring) Kagiso Lediga, Catching Feelings follows Max and his wife Sam (portrayed by the beautifully talented Pearl Thusi) as they navigate the trials and tribulations of their relationship, of which are heightened when they invite an older, hedonistic writer named Heiner (Andrew Buckland) to live with them.
From the very first comedic frame, Max is shown to be a man wrapped in sex’s clutch, and of course comes across a major conflict: an illicit affair with his student, played by the alluring Zandile Tisani. In his own guilt, Max is thrust upon the web of jealousy, as he suspects Sam of the same betrayal, with Heiner. Thusi evokes an enticing potpourri of lovable, free spirit, and sexy as she fully becomes Sam, a woman who is not only a wife, but a woman with her own sexual agency.
In the background of the primary narrative surrounding the relationship lies an interesting aspect surrounding friendship. I liken it to Love Jones, because Lediga creates such a familiar feel with the characters, it’s almost as if he has invited us — the audience — and offered us a chair to sit and talk with them. Spliced between scenes with Max and Sam are kickbacks with the diverse group of friends (in race, class, background and personality alike) who discuss real issues such as racism, gentrification, sex and morality, marriage, and more.
Overall, Catching Feelings is an interesting look into the grayness of “right and wrong” and the myriad of feelings that blossom when navigating the journey of sex, marriage and love.