South African Crime Thriller 'Number 37' is an Exhilarating Ride About Greed and Desperation (Review)
In her superb crime thriller, Number 37, South African filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa channels the master of horror, Alfred Hitchcock to show the impact of desperation and greed on a person's soul. Dumisa turns her lens on a man named Randal (Irshaad Ally), a former drug dealer who is left crippled as a result of a botched robbery. Devastated by his inability to sustain the life he once had, and desperate to stay under the radar of a diabolical loan shark named Emmie (Danny Ross), Randal's only outlets are his long-suffering girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman), and the pair of binoculars she gifts him.
Set in the gloomy and gritty government housing projects in Cape Town, Dumisa pulls no punches when it comes to illustrating the violence and abject poverty that continues to chew away at impoverished communities of color. The filmmaker also refuses to make excuses for her main character. Though Randal is confined to a wheelchair and his home, it’s clear that he is is the villain in his own story. Seeing no way to carve out a better path for himself, the ill-tempered criminal thrusts much of his pain and anger on Pam — who tries but fails to sustain it.
The couple’s luck seems to shift one day when Randal — hopelessly looking to connect with the outside world, witnesses the murder of a police officer at the hands of the project's most violent criminal, Lawyer (David Manuel). Seeing the murder as an opportunity to escape his present circumstances, Randal decides to blackmail Lawyer for the money he owes Emmie so he can start a new life.
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