Review: Ayanda and the Mechanic

Fulu Moguvhani in Ayanda and the Mechanic

Ayanda and the Mechanic, also called simply Ayanda, is about a charming young woman named Ayanda, played by Fulu Moguvhani in her first role ever. Ayanda lost her father 10 years ago and is trying to preserve his memory by keeping his garage going. This review contains very minor spoilers.

Ayanda is beset by problems. Her mother Dorothy (Nthati Moshesh) and her mother’s business partner/love Zama (Kenneth Nkosi) want to sell the garage.

Fulu Moguvhani and O.C. Ukeje in Ayanda
Fulu Moguvhani and O.C. Ukeje

David (O.C. Ukeje), with whom Ayanda begins a relationship, is a mechanic in the garage. Thomas Gumede plays another mechanic.

Ayanda is an artist. Her vision for saving the garage is to take abandoned vintage cars and restore them into mechanical works of art. It might work, too, except for the interference of Zama who needs to sell the garage to stay out of jail.

Fulu Moguvhani in Ayanda and the Mechanic

She’s completely broke, in debt, and trying to start a business. It’s an impossible combination of circumstances.

Ayanda is one of the most charming characters you’ve ever seen on the screen. She radiates a glowing beauty. She’s smart. She’s enthusiastic. She’s determined. I love that she has almost as many wigs as shoes.

Filmed in South Africa by South African director Sara Blecher, the film is uniquely and proudly African in its telling and in its presentation. There is a mix of English and native language that is translated with captions. I suggest watching it with close captions on to best understand what people are saying, even the English. The two languages get jumbled up rather like what we in the Southwestern United States refer to as Spanglish, and it’s a challenge to follow.

There are portions of the film told in psychedelic animations. These brief sections are sprinkled in among the other parts of the film.

There is a sort of narrator in the form of a documentary photographer who photographs Ayanda and people she interacts with as she struggles to save her father’s garage.

It adds up to be a form of storytelling that isn’t American in the least, but is moving and touching to the max. Even though you may not recognize the names, most the players in the film are experienced, excellent actors. Fulu Moguvhani is a natural – completely convincing in her first role.

I recommend the film enthusiastically. I was absolutely captivated by it.

Ayanda and the Mechanic was picked for distribution by ARRAY and is available on Netflix.

The Trailer

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