With Number 10 it’s good to see a South African feature attempt to emulate the classic sports film genre. Sure, the sports film is usually a formulaic and predictable piece of cinema; we all know that in the last minute of the game – be it baseball, American football or any other variety of macho sport – the team we have been supporting for the past 90 minutes will pull off a miraculous victory. Despite its predictably, however, the sports film – when produced properly – can still be immensely enjoyable. Number 10 takes its cue from the great sports films that have come before it. Unfortunately, it fumbles and drops the ball … horribly.

Number 10 tells the story of provincial rugby player, James Kramer (Colin Moss), and his dream of playing for the South African national rugby team. His dream, however, is rattled when it is announced that his estranged father (Ian Roberts) will be taking over the head coaching position at the club that he plays for. As bad blood begins to resurface between father and son, James’ career, love-life and friendships all suffer and his dream steadily begins to fade away.

Number 10 has its heart in the right place; it’s a pity though that the filmmaking is so poor. From the script to the sport sequences it is amateurish and embarrassing.

The script is the one key problem from almost all others spring forth. Scriptwriter Elsabé Roux – who has written for soap series Generations – has produced a screenplay that slips into melodrama almost as soon as the film has begun. The opening scene with Jenna Dover and Colin Moss goes from being something that could have been played with all dramatic seriousness to a soap scene as Moss’ character whinges and whines that his father is going to coach the team he plays for. Drama becomes unintentional comedy (it’s enjoyable for all the wrong reasons) and the film doesn’t get any better as it plays out. The script feels like it was written in a night, and a first draft was submitted as the final shooting script.

A bad script in turn gives birth to bad performances, although it must be said that not all of these can be blamed on the script. Number 10 is a graveyard for former television continuity presenters. You have Jenna Dover (ex-KTV), Marius Roberts (ex-Mnet), Colin Moss (Idols presenter) and even Ashley Hayden (ex-Mnet) acting within the film. I have to question the use of so many well known faces within the same production – especially from the world of Mnet – and the mentality that if you are/were a continuity presenter that you can act. This is not the case. Whatever believability is left after the opening scene goes out the window with shoddy performances.

Colin Moss, as much as he wants to be taken seriously as an actor, just doesn’t pull it off. Of course the script is a stumbling block. He might be quite good – I can’t remember him in Isidingo – but this film is not a vehicle for his acting talents. The character of James is an annoying, narcissistic, pretty-boy and I truly hoped he would die in the middle of the film. Moss has to move away from his pretty-boy persona and tackle something a bit more unconventional for me to buy that he is an actor. For the moment he is still ‘that guy from Idols’.

I will admit that I was quite surprised by kwaito star Mandoza. His performance is a bit touch-and-go in his initial scenes but as the film progresses he comes into his own. Sure, it’s a one-dimensional character and by no means a Meryl Streep performance, but there definitely is room for growth here.

The sports sequences are another area of concern. For the large part they are done adequately but there are no big sports moments like massive tackles, bone-crunching collisions or awe inspiring feats (think of the tackles in The Water Boy). Rugby is not elevated to any godly heights and James’ “skill” is presented along the lines of the level found in school boy rugby. We don’t believe for a second that he deserves the Springbok number 10 jersey. What should be the most exciting sequences of the film are pedestrian.

Ministry of Illusion are the local post-production effects company that are responsible for the crowd effects seen in the film. The effects are, to use a dating phrase, nice from far but far from nice. They work when the rugby action is shown on a wide, but as soon as a close-up shot is used the crowd disintegrate into blocky blurry pixels and it looks horrible. The rugby sequences are further detracted from by this computer-generated mess.

Marketing a rugby movie to a rugby mad nation was always going to be a great idea. It’s for this reason that the film will probably do well in its opening week. It doesn’t deserve to but it will. Marketing, however, does not make a great movie (Crazy Monkey: Straight Outta Benoni, anyone?). It’s saddening and embarrassing that these filmmakers seem to have no concept of what makes good cinema. Do they even watch films? Number 10 is mediocre melodrama that is more comedy than serious drama and I expect that the film will be viciously mauled by other reviewers upon its release.

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