’Just Drive’ – Just Not Good [opinion]

The first thing one thinks about when appraising the efforts of the Namibian team who set out to break the Guinness World Record for Fastest Film Produced (Script to Screen) is whether you can find fault with a film made in 10 days.

Produced in 10 days, four hours, 46 minutes and 45 seconds, ‘Just Drive’ (2014) stopped the clock on production as the film lit the screen of the Cellar of Rock at The Warehouse Theatre to a round of cheers, whistles and good feeling last Wednesday.

No doubt a commendable feat and an exciting occasion, the whole affair lost a lot of steam once everyone had settled down and actually saw what a film made in 10 days looks like.

Beginning with an interminably long scene made longer by too loud music and the feeling that the film was going to hit 75 minutes through the cunning plan of playing entire songs over extended action, ‘Just Drive’ got off to a dubious start only slightly saved by Norman Job’s enthusiastic, though incessant, washing of his Volkswagen.

From the dodgy editing, clamorous sound editing, drab direction, strange colour-grading, haphazard script and a score that seemed flung at the film rather than thought out in the least, the hard truth is that ‘Just Drive’ is not very good.

Highly erratic and with a multi-narrative script that plays out more like a couple of different film ideas rather than as a single film to make exciting sense of, ‘Just Drive’ was wholly underwhelming and should certainly be celebrated for happening rather than for happening well.

What saves it from the cinematic abyss is an impeccable performance from Norman Jobs who makes his third turn as a taxi driver and steals scenes in his jovial driving and singing in a taxi named Foxy.

Senga Brockerhoff’s performance as one half of a murderous duo is dark, promising and happily, her beauty and eerie transformation from smiley Senga to diabolical degenerate defy all manner of issue with sound and lighting.

Usually striking actors Helouise Goraseb and David Ndjavera are wasted in long, boring scenes at a stable and at a bar respectively. However, musician Ruan Greef comes to the party with purpose and is as sleazy as they come in his turn as a doomed wife beater.

Though a collective grumbling from everyone involved can already be heard coming up the street, the truth is that while one can commend the enthusiasm, commitment and chutzpah it takes to make something like this happen, speed trumped quality by too far.

Yes, the film was made in 10 days but the time constraint was obvious from the start and required that every member of the production team should be thinking of how best to be efficient from script writing to sound. For example, shoot in fewer locations so that the sound and lighting can be perfected, rather than dragged around town to disastrous effect, and follow fewer characters in terms of story in order to make the narrative tighter and more compelling.

This film’s greatest feat is that it has revived the film industry, which has been somewhat slacking since 2012 with just two notable films being produced in 2013. Film director Miranda Stein commenting at the opening said it best: “Initiatives like these keep the Namibian film industry alive.”

They certainly do.

After submitting their Guinness World Record documents, Cameleye Productions will be announced as the new record holders in six to eight weeks and Namibia will make history as a country that can make films fast.

And hopefully the ‘Just Drive’ gang, who all profess a good time and great group dynamic, will meet again with a bigger budget and hundreds of hours to show the world we can make them both swift… and spectacular.

Source : The Namibian