With a storyline featuring incest, racism and violence, South African movie Triomf is difficult to sit through.

Those who persevere though, will be rewarded with a powerful, moving exploration of the fear and loathing experienced by many South Africans as the country went from military state to young democracy.

Based on the book by Marlene van Niekerk, the film is set in rundown Jo’burg suburb Triomf in the days leading up to the 1994 election.

Nervously awaiting a seismic shift in the country are Mol (Cooke), son Lambert (Eduan van Jaarsveldt), and family members Pop (Paul Luckhoff) and Treppie (Newton). With Lambert’s 21st birthday approaching, Treppie arranges for prostitute Cleo (Andrews) to drop by as a present, only for things to go tits up.

Scenes of Lambert having sex with his mother and a spicy script laced with expletives gives Triomf
a shock value few other South African films possess.

The movie’s real power lies in its portrayal of race relations before the elections, with
black hope standing in stark contrast to white paranoia.
The performances are a tad histrionic but Michael Raeburn’s film is a compelling look at a turbulent time in SA’s history.


GOOD FOR: Those who don’t shock easily.