Writer: Darrell Roodt, P.G. de Jonge (Screenplay)
Starring: Jamie Bernadette, Luthuli Dlamini, Laura Linn, Thandi Puren, Armand Aucamp
Plot: Newlyweds Mary and Matt celebrate Christmas, and their passion for running, with two honeymoon tickets to Africa’s ultimate footrace, The Furnace. Their excitement to race together across the biggest animal reserve in the world has them inspired. Then in a horrific flash, everything’s gone including Mary’s purpose for living. A year later, Mary is grieving. Struggling to breathe with an oxygen tank, she cries out her anger at God. Standing nearby, a man sees her suffering, and shares his own story of loss. Once a doctor in Africa, he fled to America when civil war annihilated his town. Now known by the nickname, Coffin, he digs graves after losing his practice. Coffin urges Mary to keep on believing, push through and recover, offering his help as a doctor and friend. Over time Coffin’s dedicated support and intense training helps Mary grow strong, and live to run again. But what will it take to let go of her pain .
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Inspiring Faith Based Drama
Story: The Furnace starts on the first Christmas days after Mary (Bernadette) and Matt’s (Aucamp) wedding, who have plans to challenge themselves to a race known as The Furnace 150km across African wild reserve, tragedy strikes though, leaving Mary needing an oxygen mask to get through the days.
Spending her time at her husband’s grave Mary meets the gravedigger Coffin (Dlamini) who consoles her, telling her his own story, offering to try and help her recover to the levels of fitness she is used to, so she can use her new found faith to complete the Furnace herself.
Thoughts on The Furnace
Characters – Mary starts this film married and about to go on a honeymoon the pair had been dreaming off, this goes in an instant, leaving her needing an oxygen tank to get through the day, with any hopes of running dashed. Angry at the world, she starts to close off, finding any attempts at returning to her passion ending in hospital trips, until she meets Coffin, here she learns about faith and new technology to overcome her odds to compete in the race that was her honeymoon plan, one that is a test for even the toughest runners in the world. Coffin is a gravedigger in America, even though he is trained as a doctor back in Africa, he offers to help Mary get back to her former self, teaching her to pace herself, preparing her for the impossible sounding race. He must watch from the side lines, with hope that she will make it through each stage of the race. Raphaella is a fellow runner that Mary meets along the way, one to help support her over the course of the journey.
Performances – Jamie Bernadette steps away from the action horror roles we have seen her in recently for a much more serious role, one that does play into her strengths, she deals with the athletic demand of the performance with ease, while bringing the emotional impact of her character’s journey through the film. Luthuli Dlamini does a wonderful job in his role too bringing the calmness to help make Mary strong through the film.
Story – The story here follows one woman that loses everything she had a dreamt off until she finds her faith and pushes herself to get back on the track and complete the race she was meant to do with her husband. This is a story that shows the inspiration of wanting to overcome tragedy and finding a way to achieve this in a world you wouldn’t normal consider. We do get a normal montage of training, while a large part of the story follows the race being competed in. we do get to see just how much needed to be overcome, though it could have given us more of a time frame and just what the injury Mary had, like how likely it is to overcome, or would it be something she was meant to be living with for the rest of her life.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show us just how her life changes in America, while it does get the beauty shots of the African wild reserve seeing the different animals around area.
Scene of the Movie – The race final leg.
Final Thoughts – This is an inspiring story of overcoming tragedy to get back to the former strength, with powerful performances throughout.
Overall: Inspiring Throughout.