It is clear from the offset that this psychological thriller is a heartfelt commentary about the post-apatheid impact on South Africa. Director Jenna Cato Bass, who grew up in the troubled country, weaves together her insights into her homeland with a mystical feel that could very well be drawn from her study of magic.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa), who is forced to move in with her estranged mother, a woman who has lived a life of servitude, tied to the domestic lifestyle, enslaved to white empowerment.
The madam in question is virtually catatonic for most of the movie, and is symbolic of how in spite of how tides have changed in South Africa, the presence and long lasting effect that this gruelling oppression has on Black Africans and widening the race divide.
This trauma is not one that can easily be vanquished and will be passed on from generation to generation, scarred from what transpired and stuck with this demon that resides in the consciousness, tearing apart your mental wellbeing.
The more entrenched that Tsidi becomes in her mother’s lifestyle again, the more embroiled she becomes to the torment and enslaved to suffering. Cosa portrays this anguish with great pose and dignity, fuelling our own heartache as she fights tooth and nail to resist or overcome what is inevitable. Resolution can only be found in unity, but can Tsidi find kinship with her mother and brother, or is the weight of history too overbearing?
Good Madam is a slow burn psychological commentary on trauma and oppression. It weaves a delicate balance of torment and hope, slowly dialling up the tension to a dramatic conclusion.
The pace may turn people away but for those who like to be emotionally churned up with a steady transgression, they will be gifted with a well crafted tale.
- Saul Muerte
Good Madam will be streaming on Shudder ANZ from Thu Jul 14th.