Yesterday – South Africa – Dir: Darrell James Roodt – 3/5
(This review is one of mine from the 2005 Sydney Film Festival.)

The film opens with the child’s question: “What if I was a bird?”  It’s a lovely question, but a fairly superficial film. Yesterday is beautifully photographed & there are beautiful people all through it. The women all have beautiful smiles. Yesterday’s child is even called “Beauty”. But because all the men are absent, away working (the only ones around are the taxi driver and the doctor’s orderly) we don’t get to explore their relationships with their women.  We just get the one brutal scene and the flashbacks to a happier “Yesterday”.

Yesterday made me angry.  I was angry with the doctor.  Not only was she actually a bad communicator (despite her facility with the Zulu language), I was angry about the waiting in line, with no triage. I was angry that one doctor just did an endless job and no-one took control. This attitude was exemplified by Yesterday’s statement: 'I'm not brave. It’s just the way things are.'  I wanted things to change!

So it was disappointing. Where was the anger? Where was humour? A film like Sisters in Law (Sydney Film Festival 2005) had all that, and was inspirational.  Here the dialogue seemed a bit declamatory. There was too much acceptance.  That’s part of the problem, of course. And the film seems to end on the note that education may be the salvation.  But that will take a long time.  Too long.  I think we needed an angrier film.