Directed by Nosipho Dumisa, "Number 37" is a dark homage to both the noir of a Hitchcockian era and the 90's gritty crime thriller. The film stars Irshaad Ally, Monique Rockman, Ephraim Gordon, Sandi Schultz, Danny Ross, David Manuel, Elton Landrew, and Deon Lotz. It is a clever and sharp introduction to the shady, gangster life in urban Cape Town.
Set in a rough section of Cape Town, Number 37 follows Randal Hendricks, a small-time crook who becomes wheelchair-bound in a drug deal gone wrong, and his hard-working girlfriend Pam Ismael. To distract Randal during his homebound days of limited mobility, Pam gives him a pair of binoculars. While idly surveying his block, he accidentally witnesses a dirty cop being executed by his gangster neighbor Lawyer. With a loan shark breathing down his neck, Randal decides to blackmail Lawyer, and enlists the help of both his girlfriend and his friend Warren. When the plan goes horribly awry, Randal’s options get more and more restricted—and not even local detective Gail February, investigating the death of her partner, may be able to help him.
The story is a stark crime story that plays on suspenseful thrusts of drama and intense characters. The cast give varied but strong performances. At times scenes feel forced against conflicting backdrops but inevitably that slight aspect seems as intentional as Hitchcock's "Rear Window". Dumisa shows a brilliance in this ability to mirror obvious influence of western filmmakers while never coming off as mimicry.
"Number 37" performs as a dark, off-quilter slow burner where action is concerned. There are moments when the suspense builds into actual thrills. However a lot of the violence and bloodshed acts more as aesthetic instead of pressure points in the film. Still enough thriller elements exist to really tease a Tarantino quality. Overall "Number 37" is a strong, contemporary crime thriller worth the watch. (3/5)