A Reasonable Man (1999) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • With issues of his own, an ex-army officer-turned-lawyer defends an impoverished young cowherd of killing a baby.

  • A Reasonable Man tells the story of a city lawyer who comes across the case of a herdboy from remote, rural Zululand, who has killed a one year old baby in the mistaken belief that he was killing an evil spirit, known throughout Southern Africa as the "Tikoloshe". Dark Secrets which lie buried deep within the lawyer connect him to the boy. He takes the case and enters a world of African witchcraft and mysticism to discover the truth about the killing - and himself.

  • With the trauma of 1988 Angola still deep within his mind, army officer-turned-lawyer, Sean Raine (Gavin Hood), now married to Jennifer (Janine Eser), unexpectedly comes across a crime scene. There a young cowherd, Sipho Mbombela (Loyiso Gxwala), armed with a bloody hatchet, has admitted to killing a baby in 1998 Zululand. Sean decides to defend him and finds out that Sipho had killed the baby believing it to be Tikoloshe - an evil spirit, and the baby's genitals had been cut-off. As the trial progresses, Sean finds himself at loggerheads - not only with his uncooperative client, whose very own mother refuses to see him, but also Judge Wendon (Nigel Hawthorne) - who not only warns but may also cite him for contempt - as he tries to prove that demonic possession persists not only locally but also in all major religions worldwide - including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam - while seeking personal treatment from a local witch-doctor, Sangoma Rachel Ndlovu (Nandi Nyembe).


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