'Seriously Single' Review: A fresh, pleasing romcom with an all-African cast to add to your must-watch list
Spoilers for 'Seriously Single'
Being single can be pretty awesome. Your years of being a singleton mean free-schedules, less financial and emotional pressure in maintaining a relationship, and more productivity. There's nobody else around that's demanding your undivided attention, and it may as well be the most liberating times of your life. But some people, like Dineo, wear their single status reluctantly, simply because to them relationships are the best part of life. But others, such as Noni, know what it is to enjoy your life as a single woman. It is obvious where the conflict in interest between the two friends who don't exactly see eye-to-eye when it comes to relationship. Despite being polar opposites in this sense, they are joined at the hip and journey through their turbulent love lives together.
'Seriously Single' is a refreshing and cheeky romcom by brother-sister directorial duo Katleho and Rethabile Ramphakela. It gives a preppy new look to all of the 'single'-themed movies that most of us are used to watching on Valentine's day all by our lonesome, whilst shoving handfuls of popcorn. Netflix has been expanding its already extensive library with content from across the globe, and the Ramphakela duo's first feature film is one among the streamer's offerings picked up from its South-African base. It is quirky, fresh, funny with truckloads of both cringy and cheesy romance, yet silly and charming in a sense that manages to easily draw us into the narrative. In the best sense, it spruces up the age-old perception of love, singleness, and dating.
Dineo (Fulu Mugovhani) is what one would call a serial monogamist. She takes dating quite "seriously", the end game being falling in love living happily ever after. But it seems that every single shot at love has come shorthanded for her. We are first introduced to the perky and optimistic Dineo when her latest boyfriend kicks her to the curb without so much as an explanation. Her tendency to overshare and join in on the fleeting trend of publicizing relationships to the point that it concludes with a less than amicable break-up is palpable. But as a manager at a social media company, it doesn't take her long to find out that the guy she has been dating and living with for two months jilted her for another woman. Cue the sudden bubbling hatred for the opposite gender. Yet, she doesn't let her heartache cloud her judgment or plague her thoughts for long.
Enter Noni (Tumi Morake), the best friend and a stark contrast to everything Dineo believes in. Noni lives by the "here for a good, not a long time" mantra, and with her aid, Dineo, picks herself up even before she could hit the ground and gets back in the dating pool. Noni isn't one for dating, and strictly maintains an unattached lifestyle, where one-night stands are more her go-to. Her philosophy is that if she sleeps with the same guy more than once, that to her could be defined as a relationship. So when her friend is brutally dumped (and as it seems, this isn't her first rodeo), she's all for promoting the single life and its pros. But just as she's helping Dineo patch up her love life, Nino's own principle is at stake when an endearing bartender, Max (Yonda Thomas), smitten with her from a night of fun pursues her relentlessly for something beyond a one-time fling.
Dineo, on the other hand, is cursing every being of the opposite gender just as stumbles into Lunga (Bohang Moeko). A night of drinking their sorrows away ends up with them in Lunga's bed and suddenly Dineo has heart-eyes for a man she just met, already planning the names of their future children. He seems to be the man she's been looking for, who shares her values about love and relationships. She's pretty much moved into his flat after their first encounter when she accidentally finds out that the man that she thought would be her last love, had been planning his forever with someone else. She is left devastated yet again, but Noni is right there assuming her role a Dineo's sturdy pillar and helping her face what she dreads the most, life as a single woman.
And so forms the plotline, characterized by stunning scenes of colorful club-going adventures, as well as an abundance of panoramic views of Johannesburg, where the film was shot. In a seemingly dizzying series of nights, the two ladies, adorned in a gorgeous array of lush clothing set out on a mission to paint the town red while basking in Dineo's newly-found singledom. They follow through a series of romantic conquests, as Lwazi Mvusi's script breaks away from a traditional narrative. At some point, between all the drama revolving around Lunga and Noni scrapping her smash-and-dash lifestyle, 'Seriously Single' shifts its focus from exploring the superficiality of love to a heart-warming and poignant story of female friendship. The best-friend duo navigates through various romantic paragons and aims to only achieve and maintain their one goal of happiness.
As the narrative progresses, we realize that the film moves beyond matching the ladies with the men of their choice and instead centers on their irrevocable bond of friendship. Noni and Dineo's relationship is special and unlike any other and we see it strengthening through the course of the film. It doesn't surface until the latter half of the film, where Dineo is constantly failing at love (which she later realizes is her desire to not be alone) and Noni is attempting to get rid of the best thing that could ever happen. Even after some terrible strifes and an ugly argument, the sisterhood is strong with these two.
The icing on the cake for 'Seriously Single' is that it is plenty funny and the slapstick moments although awkward are perfectly executed and well-timed. While the title issues that the film is more about falling in love, the core of the narrative actually lies in Dineo and Noni's friendship. To put it rather simply, 'Seriously Single' is like all those American romcoms that detail the struggles of falling in love and being single in an overrated location like New York City. The biggest contrast here is that it is fresh, with an all-African cast and pleasing addition to your Netflix list of must-watch romedies.
'Seriously Single' is now streaming on Netflix.