Ellen Pakkies’ story shocked millions of people around the world. At the time, it was one of only a few known cases where a mother murdered her adult son. The film begins minutes after Ellen kills her drug-addicted son, Abie, back in 2007. The next few years see Ellen stand trial for his murder as reveals how crystal meth (known on the streets of South Africa as ‘Tik’) played a role in destroying the person he used to be. Ellen’s story is incredibly heart-breaking, and the film effortlessly takes audiences through her case while giving insight into the array of emotions and events that life throws at her. It’s easily the best film to come out of South Africa in 2018 and one of the best local productions ever made. Still not sure if you should go watch Ellen: The Story Of Ellen Pakkies when it opens on 7 September 2018? This will change your mind:
The Story Brings Real Issues To Light
While the film shares Ellen Pakkies’ story, it also highlights the major drug epidemic which destroys multiple families daily in communities across South Africa. Abie destroyed Ellen and her husband Odneal’s family dynamic by intimidating his parents, stealing from them, getting involved in gang activity and a lot of emotional abuse. However, Ellen loves her son and wants nothing more than for him to get better. But, every time she lets him back in, he does something to destroy her trust in him even further – something drug addicts are notorious for doing.
Everything about the film stays true to Ellen Pakkies’ story. The script was crafted by Amy Jephta with input from Ellen herself. Pakkies also helped recreate scenes for the movie, which was shot in her home, to ensure that they were as authentic as possible. “We hope that an influential person will see the film and make a meaningful difference in such communities. Filming took place in Ellen’s house in Lavender Hill, where the murder happened. We went to great lengths to show audiences the real world in which Ellen lived, and where she and women like her continue to live,” producer Schalk-Willem Burger says.
We Learn Why Ellen Snapped
The movie isn’t an easy one to watch. Not only does it dig deep into the drug problem on the streets of the country and how it affects the users, but it also looks at how drug addicts affect those around them. Throughout his addiction, we see just how difficult Abie made Ellen’s life – despite her constantly wanting to get him help. The film also looks into Ellen’s childhood and how she was raped multiple times as a child from as early as four years old. The film explains why she ultimately murdered her own son and that she isn’t the evil person the media made her out to be.
The Production Is Incredible
The film goes back and forth between Abie’s youth until he ultimately became addicted to drugs and the subsequent murder/trial. The narrative between the two periods helps give audiences a glimpse into Ellen and Abie’s life and how she dealt with murdering her own child while enduring a public court case where she pleaded guilty to the murder, while the court learns what pushed her to this point. The film doesn’t give too much away too early and keeps audiences at the edge of their seat throughout.
A World-Class Cast
The cast give exceptional performances throughout the production and help bring the severity of Ellen Pakkies’ story to life. Jill Levenberg does an incredible job portraying Ellen. She effortlessly takes audiences on an emotional journey and isn’t afraid to push herself to what the role requires of her. Jill spent a lot of time with Ellen and did a lot of research to ensure her performance was as authentic as possible. Jarrid Geduld gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Abie as well. He takes audiences through the highs and lows of being on drugs and how difficult it was for Abie to grow up in the Cape Flats. “It is always a challenge to tell someone’s true story, especially one that is so relevant. I lost a lot of weight and really tried to get into the character in the hope that it would provide some insight into what goes on in the mind of an addict,” Jarrid says. Other incredible cast members include Elton Landrew, Kay Smith, Ilse Klink, Clint Brink and Russel Savadier.
Ellen: The Story Of Ellen Pakkies premieres at theatres across the country on 7 September 2018
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