High Fantasy [Film review – GFF2018]
Films about body swapping are usually comedy romps that end with the characters appreciating what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, but High Fantasy explores the pain such a transformation could inflict on a person’s psyche, especially in a country as racially diverse as South Africa.
The group follows three Right On girlfriends and a tag-along boy as they head into the South African wilderness for a camping trip. After smoking some seriously funky weed, the group wake up the next morning having swapped bodies.
Divisions between the racially diverse group that were previously only hinted at now hotly reach the surface. Black activist Xoli (Qondiswa James) is furious to find herself in her white friend Lexi’s (Francesca Varrie Michel) body. “Bitch Smashing” womaniser Thami (Nala Khumalo) is horrified to see the super sweet Tatianna (Liza Scholtz) feminise his form. Lexi ends up in Tatianna’s mixed race skin, but emotionally collapses under the weight of her white guilt.
Shot entirely on director Jenna Bass’ iPhone (but still movie level you-wish-you-could-try-this-at-home slick) the film has a found footage feel as the four millennials decide to film their supernatural experience. It’s a nice trick that makes you feel almost immediately intimate with the group, a bit like when you start to feel like you ‘know’ a celeb who you follow on social media. The four actors also wrote the script, and the conversational ad-libbing creates intimacy and believability in the ‘high fantasy’ concept.
In a way, much like the millennials it depicts, High Fantasy is an incredibly expressive film, not offering any answers to the issues it presents but just showing how these young characters feel in their politicised skin. But when you look past the character’s youthful exuberance all four lack any real depth, each being just a stand in for their respective demographic. Still, it’s a cool way to explore the unrest swirling under the surface between woke millennials of different life paths.
A Snapchat story about the deep fractures between optimistic youth, Bass tries to capture a feeling, not preach a solution.