Afrikaans limited series 4 Mure is pure escapism
When Covid landed on South African shores last year during its very rude and unwelcome world tour, everything ground to a screeching halt. And yet, during the most stringent lockdowns in South Africa in 2020, a lot of us had to think out of the box. Yes, to make an omelette, you need to break some eggs, but a few people in the entertainment industry instead chose to bake beautiful six-tier buttercream wedding cakes.
During lockdown, kykNET put out a pitch for “lockdown friendly” shows. Tertius Kapp and Jaco Bouwer stepped up to the plate with the idea of a one-room hotel setting where every episode sees different characters inhabiting the same room.
The resulting limited series of five episodes is very aptly named 4 Mure. The set-up sounds very basic but you will really marvel at the end product because it doesn’t have that dreaded “lockdown feel” to it. At the height of the restrictions last year, we really were confined to our own four walls, though we weren’t being held captive. In the same way, the characters of 4 Mure aren’t trapped between the four walls – that’s just where all the action happens.
Each episode fits into a different genre, covering sci-fi, drama, romance, thriller and horror, with some comedy cleverly woven in-between the more serious bits.
Two minutes into the first episode of 4 Mure I had to pause because the title reminded me of Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms, which also plays out in a hotel. I also thought the split-screen technique was characteristic of Tarentino’s style (Kill Bill comes to mind), so I decided to chat to Beer Adriaanse, who stars in the first episode, before I carried on watching.
Here’s what he had to say: “I’ve never seen Four Rooms, but I definitely think Tarantino’s stylised work might’ve been an inspiration. I feel more of a Hitchcock vibe with the way the cameras move and the use of lighting. Something like Vertigo. I loved the heightened quality of shooting like that. It bled into the performances for sure!”
Want to experience life inside these four walls? Here’s a handy episode guide so you know what to expect before you dive in.
Episode 1: Ivan and 9/11
In the first episode, we meet Ivan (Beer Adriaanse), who is hiding out in the hotel after losing his uncle and brother-in-law’s life savings by squandering it on a hot stock market tip that effed out. His brother-in-law feels bamboozled and wants to eff him up.
A day after a botched attempted suicide, Ivan wakes up in his hotel room to the news that Christiaan Barnard had just passed away while on holiday in Cyprus. The newspaper he gets with breakfast is dated as 11 September 2001. Ivan basically has three hours to warn the world about 9/11. You will have to watch the episode to see how it pans out.
It is also here where we meet the only constant character and golden thread that ties all the seemingly unrelated stories together – the very perceptive and sleuthy bellhop, Marcelina (portrayed by industry giant Lida Botha), who inadvertently becomes a pseudo psychologist and a shoulder to cry on. She also breaks through the fourth wall to give the viewer insight, ask questions and give commentary. She makes you feel safe between these four walls.
Episode 2: Paul, Zoe and their issues with their parents
Apart from Marcelina’s character, each episode carries over a clue from the previous one. The sugar packet wisdom from the first episode seems to be a recurring theme throughout the series. In the second episode we meet youngsters, Paul (Brent Vermeulen) and Zoe (Devonica Swartz), who have plans to elope to Cyprus (remember the Christiaan Barnard news report from the first episode?).
Paul stole money from his criminally rich and abusive dad, JP (Deon Lotz). The problem is, Zoe’s mom is the cleaner at Paul’s dad’s business. This is a story of two children who don’t want to end up like their parents but want to confront them at the same time. Again, I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns.
Episode 3: Jimmy, Jimmy and a sniper rifle
The next hotel guest is Jimmy, a geriatric assassin on chronic medication. The lucky packet ring from the previous episode can be seen as he retrieves his long-range sniper rifle from under the bed. It seems like Jimmy only assassinates the bad guys, as he reveals to Marcelina that the mark that is about to be snuffed is a pedophile who murdered a little boy. It turns out that the little boy, also named Jimmy, was his grandson. We also get to learn something new about Marcelina.
Fun fact – the role of Jimmy is played by Lida’s real-life husband, who is four years her junior. Carel Nel (who plays the role of the main character in the last episode) is the newsreader.
Episode 4: Desiree’s social media nightmare
For the remaining two episodes I would be ruining the element of surprise if I revealed the items that were left over by the previous guests. The new guests are Desiree (Ilse-Lee Van Niekerk),a spoilt brat and Afrikaans music star, and her effeminate assistant, Hannes (Wessel Pretorius), who constantly suffers her temper tantrums and outbursts. He leaves her to herself in the hotel room where she trawls social media and takes selfies.
Desiree is self-obsessed and oblivious to the world around her. She gets drunk and posts hugely offensive photos on her social media page that has over 400 000 followers. This episode looks at the pitfalls of social media, white privilege and hiding behind religion.
Marcelina is once again the voice of reason: “I don’t understand why everyone always wants to know everything about everyone. Or want everyone to know everything about them. That’s stupid! Is it curiosity or conceit, or both? Are people meant to be that interesting? You lot today? Wow!”
Tip: you’re going to pause this episode a few times to read the social media comments that appear on-screen. It is just brilliant craftsmanship.
Episode 5: The horrors of Leap Day
The final episode is truly kak-scary and extremely unsettling! It starts with a morbidly obese man, Bertus (Carel Nel) eating like there is no tomorrow. and for the first time it felt to me like 4 Mure is actually dealing with the seven deadly sins.
We find Marcelina cleaning the biggest mess in the room yet. It happens to be Leap Day and according to Marcelina, this is the day when room number 7 looks straight into your soul. New tenant, Sandra (Tinarie van Wyk Loots), is about to have a very kak time. She gets told that the room isn’t ready, yet she insists to stay there.
4 Mure is a collection of five brilliant, unrelated short movies of 25 minutes each, tied together by the hotel room as a character of sorts which, as a whole, forms a fantastic full-length movie when put together.