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‘Frankie en Felipé’ is a bittersweet comic treasure from the Cape Flats

‘Frankie en Felipé’ is a bittersweet comic treasure from the Cape Flats
In 'Frankie en Felipè', Frankie is played by the late Bradley Olivier and Felipé by Solomon Cupido. (Photo: kykNET)

‘Frankie en Felipé,’ a fresh, heartfelt comedy, celebrates Cape coloured culture with a story of brothers separated and reunited after more than a decade.

Frankie en Felipé captured this writer’s heart from its opening beat: Two mischievous boys are chased down the Cape Flats streets by a shop owner. What’s their story? When you find out, you will laugh and cry.  

Frankie, played by the late Bradley Olivier, and Felipé, played by Solomon Cupido, are half-brothers who grew up under unfortunate circumstances. The boys are separated when Frankie’s stepfather puts him at an orphanage. Although Frankie’s mother fought the idea, her huffing and puffing did not have much oomph, and she was left with the guilt of abandoning her son.

Jump to more than a decade later and their lives have changed completely.

Frankie is living a life Felipé could only dream of, working as an overachieving advertising executive at his soon-to-be father-in-law’s marketing firm, about to marry into a wealthy family and having changed his name to a “more marketable” Frankie Blaze.

Felipé, who did not make it out of the Flats, is still living with their mother and drowning in debt, thanks to a lurking loan shark. Their mother is sick and he has no choice but to hustle for her medication by trying various business ventures, including a flopped counterfeit perfume business.

Felipé finds his estranged brother after 15 years in the hope that he will help him clear his debt to Bennas, the loan shark, played by a convincing Shimmy Isaacs. What Felipé doesn’t know is that in Frankie’s world, he and their mother are a dirty secret.

How long can Frankie keep them hidden? Finding out is the best part of the movie.

Frankie en Felipè

(Photo: kykNET)

Renewing an old story

Although we have seen this storyline a dozen times, this particular take is refreshing.

The production celebrates the rich culture of the Cape coloured community, with inside jokes you might only know if you lived with someone from the area or regularly bought samoosas from an auntie on the Flats.

The story could really break your heart, but just before it does, an endorphin-boosting punchline saves the day.

(Photo: kykNET)

Bravo to the actors for the effortless connection to the characters. The way Cupido delivered his lines in the beginning felt like he was a part of a theatre rehearsal, but as the story unfolds you see that that is who Felipé is – funny, “uncultured” and undeniably a diamond in the rough – while Frankie is more reserved and well-mannered. Frankie and Felipé’s bromance is heart-melting.

This film is easily one of South Africa’s comic treasures.

The movie’s brilliance is also bittersweet since it is Olivier’s last contribution to the industry. He wrote and produced the film with Cupido before his untimely passing in July 2023. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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