Going Bongo: Review

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Going Bongo: Review

Chicks at the Flicks.

Reviewed by Karen Bryson 

Going Bongo isn’t quite a comedy or a romantic comedy of the classic boy meets girl type. Nor is it purely a gritty drama examining life in Africa. But rather something a little different….dare I say way more interesting and original.

It tells the story of Dr Lewis Burger played beautifully by the writer and producer Ernest Napoleon. Who has ambitions for great things as he lands his “dream job” at a presitious hospital in Bel-Air. There is a feeling he had his life and career path planned out. Engaged to be married  to ”pushy” social climber Marina fantastically judged by ( Ashley Olds). A new position as a Doctor in a top hospital, where he will live happily ever after tending to the rich and famous in Hollywood….the end. But, after attending a hospital fundraising gala Burger unwittingly volunteers for a placement in an under resourced hospital in Tanzania for a month. Off he goes, leaving Hollywood behind…reluctantly. And so this ‘fish out of water’ scenario begins. It is from this premise a lot of  the comedy occurs, as Burger adjusts to life in Africa. We encounter the staff of the hospital as they put the (“American Doctor”) Burger through his paces and ‘initiate’ the him through a series of practical jokes and pranks. The classic miscommunications as the two worlds collide.  Along the way Burger forms a special bond with fellow foreign Doctor (Emmanuel Galliussi) Laura, whose life was changed as she decided to stay there years before. We, the audience go on the journey of discovery with Burger, as we too fall in love with his friends and Tanzania. Dr Lewis Burger has a difficult decision to make.

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Though there are some hilarious comedy moments, on the opposite side of the coin the film illustrates the harsh realities of life in Dar-es-salaam and a working hospital with insufficient funds. Some of the touching stories that come from dealing with patients in this culture and surroundings are tactfully told. A total contrast to the life he left in Bel-Air.  For me, the film truly comes into it’s own in Tanzania. Some of the scenes in Hollywood fall a little short, this doesn’t detract from the film as a whole as very little is set there.

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Going Bongo is  beautifully shot, edited and sensitively directed by Dean Mathew Ronalds.  Some of the dialogue is simply genius. The balance is beautiful, it never feels that a huge point is being made and yet I left the film feeling that so much had been said….subtly. The cast are brilliant without exception and work fantastically well together.  Stand out performance for me came from ‘would be actress’/nurse Tina (Nyokabi Gethaiga). The friendship that is formed between them all is well written and realised with great comic timing from all, especially  Gethaiga and Napoleon. The film has a killer sound track by Alex Hemlock, I found myself tapping my toes throughout. It really is extraordinary what has been achieved on a limited budget.

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Going Bongo goes a long way into showing another side of East Africa. A humour, a non political lightness of touch. But also revealing some moving moments too. It’s a refreshing peep into an aspect of Tanzania and it’s inhabitants rarely seen in film.

It’s hard to catagorise or simply place this film in any particular genre, it is what it is. A heartfelt and truly entertaining film. I was left wanting more. Going Bongo the TV series maybe?

Take a look at the Trailer

Going Bongo released in the UK today!

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