Plot: After a successful heist that scored them a pile of diamonds, two thieves find themselves pursued by the police and in an effort to outsmart the law, ditch the loot in the chase. The two are soon captured and arrested, but they plan to escape and return to the drop off point, to recover their stolen jewels. But while they’re locked up, a pair of young men happen upon the diamonds and while they’re not sure what to do with the find, they know the stones are valuable. As the two discuss what to do next with the diamonds, the thieves manage to escape from custody, though they remain in chains, which makes things a little difficult. Will the men who discovered the diamonds be able to stay a step ahead of the thieves and with the police also on the hunt, what will become of the valuable gems?
Entertainment Value: I was intrigued by Fishy Stones, one of the movies made by native South Africans in the Apartheid era, inspired by action movies from the United States, but also able to project a unique voice of its own. The narrative is simple enough, with a focus on characters and some light action, as well as a general b movie vibe that adds some fun elements. I appreciate how much the cast and crew were able to achieve, given the obvious lack of resources involved. The production values have some spikes however, such as the fun chase that opens the movie and while that pace isn’t kept up, you can tell they made the most of what was available. This results in some long, on the slow side stretches, but even the dialogue heavy sequences make an effort at humor and light character depth. The dynamic between the thieves is fun to watch and when the budget can allow some action oriented moments, those are well done, considering the circumstances. I found a certain charm with Fishy Stones as well, not to mention immense respect for what the cast and were able to accomplish. I think those with an appreciation for regional indie cinema or international curios will find this more than worth a watch.
The performances in Fishy Stones aren’t going to rack up awards and acclaim, but they’re often fun to watch and if nothing else, enthusiastic. The film’s b movie vibes ensure those kind of performances seem right at home and while the slower scenes can drag a little, the colorful cast helps balance that out. Hector Mathanda tends to steal the show as the comic relief of the thieves duo, with an over the top, usually silly effort that has a lot of energy. Whether the scene is just a conversation or stuffing his face with sloppy food, Mathanda gives it his all and that kind of enthusiasm makes a difference, without question. The other performances aren’t as wild or humorous, but most of the cast seems game and energy runs high. The cast also includes Popo Gumede and Mandla Ngoya, while Tonie van der Merwe directs.