Reminiscent of films like the Brazilian child-gang staple City of God, director Ian Gabriel manages to embue the genre with genuine freshness while maintaining thematic elements unique to his national sensitivities. Gabriel manages to elicit extraordinary performances from his cast. Especially noteworthy is that of young Jezzriel Skei whose coming-of-age becomes the driving force of the film. Four Corners is an open invitation to enter an unknown world of violence and survival. It is also a marvelously directed sophomore effort.
Carlos Aguilar, INDIEWIRE – http://blogs.indiewire.com/
This is, without doubt, one of the most fearless, bold and best South African films ever made. It takes readers to the heart of gang violence on the Cape Flats and exposes the cruel stories of the perpetrators and victims of the 26- and 28-prison gangs. With brutal realism, a brilliant insight into what makes prisoners tick and a brave examination of the heart of violence in this country, director Ian Gabriel has here made a classic. It is rough – much tougher than razor wire and with extreme language, but this is real life. See it at all costs. RATING: *****
Leon van Nierop, DAILY SUN (Print)
It is one of the best productions of its kind I’ve seen in a long time, with mesmerising performances and a storyline that is believable and utterly compelling. .. Ian Gabriel’s second film, written by Hofmeyr Scholtz and Terence Hammond, is a neatly structured, well-crafted exercise that highlights the shifting concepts of family, fatherhood and gangs. At its core is the coming of age of a young boy in the toughest of circumstances and audiences, no matter their own backgrounds, will surely resonate with this engaging character.
Peter Feldman, THE CITIZEN - http://citizen.co.za/150735/it-all-adds-up/
Take a walk with South African filmmaker Ian Gabriel as he takes you on a shocking journey through the criminal underworld of the Cape Flats through the eyes of very different people, all brought together by one common theme: family… The mix of Kaapse Afrikaans and Sabela ( the secret language of the Numbers Gang) and the intriguing portrayal thereof, has captured the minds of audiences around the world.
Allan Williams, HERALDLIVE - http://www.
Ever since the success of “City Of God”, filmmakers in developing countries have been recycling its tropes in less effective imitations. Ian Gabriel’s “Four Corners”, South Africa’s foreign Oscar submission has something new to say and show us. Gabriel (“Forgiveness”) and co-writers Terence Hammond and Hofmeyr Scholtz have produced a taut script filled with surprises. The only scene approaching cliché, a last act shoot-out, packs its own surprise. A MUST SEE
Robin Menken, CINEMA WITHOUT BORDERS - http://
Four Corners is quite simply one of the best South African films in recent memory … its a thriller that can hold its own against the world’s best.
Sandiso Ngubane, SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (Print)
“The story is universal, about loyalty, trust and basic humanity. This is an unadorned reflection of real life, but has a message for anyone who has the opportunity to see it.”
Tony Watts, NIAGARA FILM FESTIVAL - https://niagarafilmfest.
Perversely impressive, this bold excursion into an underworld proves that, as a nation, South African has no reason to yield to any other film-producing country when it comes to providing convincingly menacing thugs and lags; this authenticity may be superficial and its earnestness admirable but, crucially, the motives behind them have been lent gravitas by a revealing depiction of the deprivation and despair that lead to criminality.
Philip Altbeker, BUSINESS DAY LIVE - http://www.bdlive.co.
There are moments of tenderness, of beauty and of triumph, but make no mistake, Four Corners is tough viewing. What makes it so enticing, if brutal – apart from the well-developed story and the good ensemble – is that it depicts a way of life that people make judgements about, but in reality know very little about. Four Corners was our official selection for this year’s Oscars and is must-see viewing, though it may be a hard sell on Friday night at the movies. It is a South African story told with great attention to detail that offers hope for the future of our so often uneven film industry. You won’t be able to look away.
Gayle Edmunds, CITY PRESS - http://www.citypress.
As South Africa’s official entry for the foreign language Oscar, the film could see a strong local turnout when released at home next year, while festivals will likely take notice. It’s also got enough style and polish to find overseas takers, especially among VOD outlets seeking offshore genre fare Newcomers Skei and Daniels both offer up potent performances, with the latter particularly engaging as a man unable to escape the savage world he left behind. Soundtrack by Cape Town electro musician Markus Wormstrom mixes classical compositions with catchy hip-hop beats, underscoring a street life that’s as culturally rich as it is hazardous to your health..
Jordan Mintzer, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - http://www.
This is a coming of age film about choices, about ties and cycles that must be broken, about communities at war, about redemption and family and fatherhood. This film is not for the fainthearted and it is not a heart-warming tale, it is a very real portrayal of the lives lived in gang ridden communities behind the news headlines. This South African production can stand proudly next to international gang thriller, City of God.
Leandra Engelbrecht, CHANNEL 24 - http://www.
Hope floats precariously in the shadowy ghetto of the Cape Flats in Ian Gabriel’s Four Corners, a gritty and cruel coming-of-age story that stylistically stalks a fistful of characters as they collide under the checker cloth of Mother Mountain. Like the winds that rage there and the two Oceans that kiss, Gabriel’s shiny gangland piece is a howling and powerful social statement that cuts deep and bleeds true. This slick and rhapsodic romp around the Cape’s badlands is delightfully dark and disturbing, but it also cups a dim flame of hope that flickers provocatively throughout… Gabriel’s heartfelt efforts here will appeal to all those wondering what modern South African cinema really has to offer…Four Corners is gripping and unsettling in its terrifying portrayal of gangland entrapment in the Cape. Like Gavin Hood’s Oscar-winning Tsotsi, Gabriel’s lens here is sharply focused on tapping into South Africa’s gang culture and the tragedy it fosters; fertile cinematic territory that frames its subject matter seriously as it tactfully scraps the monochrome underbelly of the rainbow nation and humanises the forgotten specimens found struggling there. This is a brutal cinematic event that does not discard hope for the future, but rolls up its sleeves to expose the scars needed to be acknowledged to move forward… The story itself is eerily entrancing and fresh, and contains a full clip of heart-pounding moments that are tantalisingly spaced—high stakes conflicts that really could have gone either way and made for thriller cinema… Ian Gabriel’s efforts here are a positive sign for South Africa’s film industry. It’s an honest and enticing cinematic event that I hope, and indeed encourage, South Africans to really get behind.
Christopher J Wheeler http://inthekan.net/r
Pulsating beats and musical roots give Four Corners a South African flavour and add a thick crust to the slice-of-life drama. The cinematography and soundtrack are world class, making Four Corners not just “good for a South African film”, but solid by international standards. The documentary-worthy subject matter and execution is provocative and unveils a festering gangland of reluctant heroes and inevitable villains that would be worth revisiting. 7/10
The Four Corners (Die Vier Hoeke) is a visually arresting slalom through the gang-infested badlands of the Cape Flats… Four Corners is a gripping insight into life on the Cape Flats. The action carries the story forward at a thrilling clip and the cinematography is particularly impressive, as are the performances from Daniels, Skei and Ally.
Witbooi Slim, CAPE TIMES - http://www.iol.co.za/
“Jezriel Skei’s stunning performance as Ricardo helped garner the film the award for Best Feature at the Festival. An aura of realism was created through the use of regional actors, actual gang handouts and Cape Town languages such as the numbers gangs’ secret language called Sabela. Watching the film was like driving through Harlem in a convertible. It felt as if gun fire could break out any moment. The fast pace, quick scene changes, constant action and crisp dialogue created a sense of tactile immediacy.”
“Ian Gabriel’s finely crafted film, Four Corners, focuses on a handful of interconnected characters… A sense of melancholy and tragedy runs through this beautifully acted film”