High Praise for "Catch a Fire" at Toronto | The Moviegoer

Monday, September 11, 2006

High Praise for "Catch a Fire" at Toronto

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2006 at 8:55 AM

"Catch a Fire" the politically charged South African apartheid drama starring Derek Luke and Tim  Robbins received from high praise from the L.A. Times Gold Derby:

Of all special events staged during this fest, none has given me more goosebumps or caused my eyes to wet up so much as last night's world premiere of "Catch a Fire" at the Elgin, Toronto's grandest old theater. It's a gripping pic telling the real story of Patrick Chamusso, a South African black man who became so outraged by the horrors inflicted upon him and family by the Apartheid regime that he made the painful decision to give up his family and join the rebel movement so he could blow up the energy plant where he worked. Actor Derek Luke nails his raw rage and shattered soul so impressively that he's a strong candidate to get the best actor nomination that he should've received for Oscar-gypped "Antwone Fisher." "Catch a Fire" could catch fire in other top Oscar categories, too, including best picture and director (Phillip Noyce, who's also helmed "Rabbit Proof Fence" and "The Quiet American"). The movie is that well made and devastating to watch, especially at the end when Noyce pulls a "Schindler's List" and merges his screen rendition of yesterday with what's real and survives today.

In the last few minutes of "Catch a Fire," in an effectively handled switcheroo, we suddenly meet the contemporary Chamusso, who addresses the audience to tell us the resolution of the last scene depicted in the story and to bring us up to date on what he's done since (he's turned his home into an orphanage) and what he learned from all of it.

The audience was knocked out. They whooped, cheered, wept and whistled as the credits rolled and the house lights did not come up.

Then, suddenly and quite theatrically, an announcer's voice boomed through the dark.
"Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Mr. Patrick Chamusso!"

A spotlight flooded a side balcony above my head where a man stood up and looked out, thunderstruck, at a scene he surely never imagined long ago when he rotted — bruised, bloodied and starved — in an African prison.

The massive crowd cheered him widely, calling out his name, some even jumping up in the air as if trying to touch him on high.

Chamusso appeared emotionless at first, then smiled with amazement and gratitude as tears rolled down his face, finally extinguishing a hell fire he once dared to catch.

Everyone wept in that theater last night. Everyone followed a brave soldier.

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