Necktie Youth

Anyone who grows up in Sandton spends a lot of time hanging out at pools and drug-filled parties – for this part of Johannesburg is the richest spot in the whole of Africa. Necktie Youth portrays this first post-apartheid gilded youth in striking black-and-white. Soft colours are reserved for their childhood memories of the early years of the rainbow nation. White 19-year-old Emily did not understand the codes of their set and could not take the pace of the ever-changing, fleeting liaisons, says the super cool, black and privileged September when he tries to explain to a TV reporter why Emily hung herself in her parents’ garden. She even positioned her camera in such a way that her suicide could be streamed live.


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  • ★★★½ review by Rakestraw on Letterboxd

    An episodic mosaic of the disaffected youths of Johannesburg, unable to care and/or connect with each other, shot in black and white while incorporating a number of elements - documentary, voice-over reminiscings over top vintage footage in color, disorienting drug sequences and more.

    All of these elements culminate into an unbalanced concoction of a statement piece; some elements work wonderfully while others segments carry little weight. When the film focuses on the camaraderie between Dabz (Bonko Cosmo Khoza) and September (director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer) it's at its best, full of life and energy. The dialogue and chemistry between the two is exceptional; the dialogue runs the gamut of poignant to humorous.

    A successful debut for Shongwe-La Mer, mostly due to his performance as the flex-obsessed September. I look forward to witnessing what he creates in the future.

  • ★★★½ review by Juliana Fontes on Letterboxd

    Fotografia muito boa. Inclusive o ator que narra fala sobre isso. Todo em preto e branco.

    Atores ótimos, e o tema, é bem bom. Totalmente atual.

    Acho que se visto em um cinema foda, o filme se torna melhor.

  • ★★★★½ review by Michel Coutinho on Letterboxd

    Black people with white people problems. Será?

  • ★★★½ review by cinemagazine on Letterboxd

    "De getalenteerde Shongwe-La Mer komt ambitieus voor de dag. Zijn in stijlvol maar grimmig zwart-wit geschoten debuutfilm husselt diverse filmvormen door elkaar en smeedt er een – zij het vrij los aan elkaar hangend – geheel van. Flarden van documentaire, interviews, video-essay en fotografie kleden deze speelfilm aan en dat levert een gewaagd en eclectisch resultaat op."

  • ★★★★ review by One Room With A View on Letterboxd


    With its Pulp Fiction-esque sprawl and community of Johannesburg teens, writer and director Mer’s Necktie Youth bears all the hallmarks of a precociously talented young filmmaker – for better or worse.

    His script coalesces around the shocking livestreamed suicide of a teenage girl, but elsewhere it lacks focus, relying on some awkward observational dialogue that only occasionally captures the everyday realism he’s aiming for.

    The direction is far stronger, with a tremendous eye for an evocative image. Mer is ably supported by Chuanne Blofield’s gorgeous black and white cinematography, and some poetic editing that every now and then achieves brilliance.

    There are patches of bad – even embarrassing – acting and writing, but despite this, Mer has created a thought-provoking and melancholy picture of life in modern Jo’burg.

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