The Swenkas

The Swenkas Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 7 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: A documentary on a group of men in Johannesburg, South African who call themselves "Swenkas" and compete on Saturday nights for cash and prizes in a fashion show of their own making.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. 88
    A beautifully shot, wonderfully moving film.
  2. 75
    It's "Saturday Night Fever," Johannesburg-style.
  3. This peculiar and sweet film--which lushly scores the silent tournaments with Henry Mancini and Tommy Dorsey--more or less leaves it at that, exploiting the poetic surreality of the overdressed Zulus in Pierre Cardin primping in the basements and barren fields of the Transvaal but resisting the urge to contextualize or explain it.
  4. When these proudly strutting dandies glide through a grimy basement as if they didn't have a care in the world, their joy is irresistible, and Ronde's point is made.
  5. 60
    Ronde demonstrates a painterly eye and ripe affection for these people, but as with "Jerusalem, My Love" he maintains a too-polite, worshipful distance from his subjects.
  6. 50
    It all feels formal and unreal, the product of high ritual. But it also feels like one of the few rituals they're playing out entirely for themselves rather than for the sake of Rønde's neatly packaged modern fairy tale.