Smanga (director Charlie Vundla) has a promising academic career, a nice house, and a stable marriage – or so he thinks. When his wife, Laura (Terry Pheto), leaves him for another man, Smanga slips into self-destruction, medicating himself with alcohol and marijuana, risking his appointment at one of South Africa’s top universities, and defaulting on the mortgage payments for his house. One night in a bar, he runs into Jon (Louis Roux), and old school-mate who has become a failed life coach. It’s very reluctantly that he lets Jon crash on his couch for the night, but soon the friendship is rekindled, and Jon begins to help Smanga fix his life.

One morning, totally unexpectedly, Laura returns. She is remorseful and wants to save her marriage. As the couple finds their lost ardour, an unlikely threesome starts to take shape, one born of friendship and solidarity. On the face of it, the shared imperative of Smanga, Laura, and Jon is to save the house from imminent bank seizure, but there’s a lot more than that at stake.

Charlie Vundla’s second feature, the follow-up to his fast-paced heist thriller How to Steal 2 Million, is surprising at every twist. Cuckold puts a new spin on the dramatic trope of the menage a trois, using it as a tool for dissecting a man’s emotional upheaval – and also as a means of debunking the false entitlements of chauvinism.

–Rasha Salti


Watch CUCKOLD (AKA The Tribe)