{Movie Review} Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story

Spectacular! The word wraps up how I felt at the end of the movie as the credits starting rolling in. Absolutely spectacular…

I saw the movie was coming on circuit when browsing the Ster Kinekor site some weeks back, when my hubby, sisters and brother-in-laws decided on a spur-of-the-moment visit to the cinema. I figured it would make a great film, since there was a strong story behind it. So when my hubby decided on Sunday to take me to watch it, I was pleased. He offered that we could watch something else, but I was keen to see this. And in any case I don’t watch as many local movies in the cinema as I’d like to, as we all should. So I was looking forward to seeing it. And boy, I was not disappointed, at all! Here are my feelings on the movie, without giving too much away…


Ellen’s story unfolds by taking you through the aftermath of murdering her son – with police proceedings, attending his funeral and standing trial – while blending in scenes from her past leading up to the events that finally drove her over the edge. It was beyond the story of a mother acting in self-defense, for fear of her own life. It was the story of a mother, a woman, who had simply reached the point of having had enough; she’d reached her rubicon.

Through stellar acting and cinematography showing but the tip of the iceberg of what life in Lavender Hill is like for residents, the story of Ellen Pakkies comes to life. It is more than just a story of a mother-turned-murderer: it shows the very real struggle of a mother going through the emotional turmoil of having a drug-enslaved child, and needing to face the bitter reality of her own history of being at the receiving end of years of abuse. It shows the struggle of a woman caught between maternal instinct to love and protect, against needing to exercise tough love and protect herself and her home. It shows the struggle of a community where good people are desperately hoping for a miracle while living each day in a drug-infested war zone.

The movie is raw in its depiction of Ellen’s story. The backdrop of Lavender Hill being a far cry from the photogenic strip of the Sea Point Promenade, the language rough and vulgar. Each scene adds to the picture you can start piecing together of Ellen Pakkies and her ordeal in a way newspaper articles, social media and news coverage could not have. Because this went deeper into telling Ellen’s side, the very real side of living a nightmare that finally pushed her to take her own son’s life.

The movie was riveting. I laughed, I held my breath, I cried. You cannot sit and watch this movie without being moved; without being transported from your comfort zone into a very gruesome reality that Ellen and so many other mothers, fathers, and people face on a daily basis. You cannot watch this movie without feeling grateful for not having faced this yourself, without saying a prayer for anyone facing anything even remotely similar to Ellen’s situation, and you simply cannot watch this without feeling inspired and in awe of Ellen Pakkies’ courage and faith.

Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story is a definite must-see! So, what are you waiting for? Go book your movie ticket and support amazing local talent in recognition of a powerful local story. Enjoy!

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