Crime (it’s a way of life)by Nathan Zeno / 25.07.2009
Shot for a modest budget outside of workshops and funding parameters Crime (It’s A Way Of Life) tackles the feelings of powerlessness that haunt crime victims. Crime has the few technical flaws that are expected in any independent low-ish budget film, but it is not these technical issues that get in the way of what could have been a stop you in your tracks film. So riled up (rightly so) about the tide of crime and the lack of police response and so enamored of their message the filmmakers have made one or two missteps that prevent the film from going all the way, however, for some, the sheer weight of the emotions it explores will ride roughshod over those missteps
Michelle is struggling to deal with her recent hijacking when, alone at home; she realizes that one of the hijackers is trying to break into the house. When her husband Andrew returns he discovers that she had managed to incapacitate and tie up the hijacker. What follows in a tense discussion over the possible paths that they could choose, do they exact revenge or do they call the police. This discussion plays out against flashbacks to the actual hijacking, revealing slowly the horror of the event and the things that Michelle has kept from her husband, the truth slowly tumbling out into the light. To his credit, director Savo Tufegdzic humanizes the hijackers, further to this; he does not sensationalize the violence but rather shows the cruelty and raw needless brutality of the act. Crime is a delicate balancing act of banal everyday conversation and moral conflict.
However, because it is such a delicate balance, there are moments when the natural dialogue feels scripted to be so, in a way that makes you aware of the artifice. Similarly Kevin Smiths performance suffers from his occasional lapses into Isidingo style proclamations. These are small flaws but they do break the flow of the film. There is also a lapse in logic that is never sufficiently explained, why only one hijacker comes back could make sense but the fact that the other arrives later is mildly confusing. The way Tufegdzic portrays the outcome of this arrival feels in direct contrast to the handling of the violence against Michelle.
Crime suffers from being a message film, often its characters are reduced signifiers, which distances the audience from their pain and makes it difficult to empathize. This does not detract from the unflinching look Tufegdzic takes at issues at hand and because of this, for many South Africans victims Crime should be a cathartic experience.