TIFF 2022: “The Umbrella Men”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

We have gotten used to violent bank robbery films that is literally filled with bloodshed. In some cases, it is just the vulnerable people in society needing money for a fresh start, like in “Set Off”, or just for a lavish lifestyle. But in this South African film, it offers another take as to why one must rob a bank and, on top of that, do it safely with no casualties.

Jerome just returned to Cape Town to bury his estranged father. Hoping he can leave as soon as the funeral is over, the man is struck with the news that the club he inherited might be foreclosed due to the deceased father’s debt amounting to a million ZAR. The man tries to negotiate with bank, but after leaving the manager’s office empty handed, Jerome makes a bold decision to use the old Carnival that is a week away as a shield to rob the bank, get the money, retain the club and live happily ever after. But the problem is, how to rob a bank if the previous robbers had to leave the bank as soon as they realized the vault is unbreakable?

Written and directed by John Barker, “The Umbrella Men” is a funny thriller that explores the vulnerability of people when they are in an urge to get money. Jerome is a not a bad guy. He is a family man and works as a musician. But he gets romantically involved with Keisha, a bank employee, who he hopes can help him with his mission. Jerome does not have a tendency to committing crimes, but realizes the importance of keeping his father’s legacy alive. As for the storyline, it is already engaging but the music makes it a thrilling ride. The cast is top notch. Abduragman Adams, Jaques De Silva, Keenan Arrison as Mortimer, Omar Adams, Shamilla Miller and many more deliver delightful performances throughout.

“The Umbrella Men” may not be an ideal film for everyone, but as soon as you start watching it, you are able to quickly connect to the characters and sympathize with their choices, even though, in the real world, you can’t just applaud someone when someone expresses the desire to rob a bank. Again, it is a story of good guys robbing from bad guys that can benefit their community. At the end of the day, each choice made has its consequences, but you will be extremely delighted to know the version “The Umbrella Men” offers.

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