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3 out of 4 stars

Title
Felix
Directed by
Roberta Durant
Country
South Africa
Language
English

In post-apartheid South Africa, the 14-year-old son of a housekeeper gains access to an elite boarding school thanks to his mother's benevolent employer. Felix faces bullying from other students, but tries to find his place by showcasing musical talents he refines thanks to his interest in his late father, a roguish jazz musician whose antics left Felix's mother vigilant about her eldest son showing any interest in music she considers immoral. Much of this movie plays with the primary-colored simplicity of a kids' movie with broad, dumbed-down performances. But there are some smart, interesting twists such as the fact that one of the bullies – though, to be fair, he's a reluctant player at the abuse – is the black son of a government minister and therefore born to greater power than most other students. These touches get your attention. The film has been described as "Billy Elliot with Cape Jazz". Eventually its good nature, energy and warmth win you over. You need to check if your heart is made of granite if you're not moved by the exultant final scene.

At VIFF: Oct. 5, 6:30 pm, Rio; Oct. 8, 1:30 pm, Rio

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