From writer and director Pieter du Plesis, in the exciting South African film Dust we get a look into a desolate land, where Rachel (Shana Mans in her feature film debut) and her family are seeking respite from the harshness of the world.
Rachel, her father David (David Butler – Life is Wild, Generations, Binnerlanders), and Isaac (Christian Gous in his feature film debut), enroute to a fabled better land, encounter a family living on a farm run with religious ideology by Janice (Michelle Bradshaw – The Wild, Isidingo, Isibaya). It is here where the story takes a dark turn, and each Rachel will need to dig deep, face her inner most fears, and formulate a way to keep those dear to her safe while navigating the complex ensemble of characters at the farm. From little stirrings at first, the story progresses to life or death choices by those driven beyond their breaking points.
The story, while simple enough on the surface, includes many layers which beg the viewer to ask “what if”, placing themselves in the situations of each on-screen character, weighing decisions and beliefs. The undulating journeys we get to witness, that of each family member, the push by Janice to unite the two groups pushing the unwilling Rachel and the outwardly timid Caleb (Kaz McFadden – Strikdas, Knysna, Erfsondes), the drive to protect family and legacy, build a palpable tension that that culminates in the film’s adrenaline filled climax.
Mans excels in her role as Rachel, conveying a plethora of emotion and intent, by bringing a stillness to the character that on-screen says so much about the unfurling story to the viewer, breathing life into a tormented backstory that alludes to traumatic events, and all the while leading a talented cast.
Dust has a diverse group of characters, playing out a multi-layered story that will keep viewers enthralled to the very end. The talented cast brings life to the ensemble characters, providing many nuances, emotion, and hints at hardships endured prior to where the films story beings. The film is one of those gems that shows South Africa is indeed a player on the international stage of filmmaking. From the very start, the film grips the viewer, outpacing any guesses one might hazard against plot, all as a story of intense emotion and inner turmoil unfolds.