Drama / Romance (2017)
Xolani joins the other men in his community on a journey to the mountains to initiate a group of teenagers into manhood.
His entire existence starts to unravel when a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best-kept secret, a forbidden love.
Director: John Trengove
Writers: John Trengove, Thando Mgqolozana
Stars: Nakhane Touré, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay
France / South Africa
IMDB Rating - 6.7
Tomatometer - 91%
In this austere and unsettling film, directed by John Trengove and inspired by a novel by Thando Mgqolozana (who worked on the screenplay with Malusi Bengu and Mr. Trengove), the camp, which is the movie’s only setting, becomes a kind of prison. The taciturn Xolani (Nakhane Touré) is charged with looking after a sullen boy named Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini). He’s also hooking up on the sly with Vija (Bongile Mantsai), another male caretaker with a wife and children back home. The campfire conversations of blustery teenagers and chest-puffing elders contrast with the shame and rage of Xolani, who is not out, and Vija, who is leading a double life. As it happens, Kwanda isn’t having it. He’s relatively comfortable with his sexuality and disgusted by Xolani, whom he sees as a hypocrite for having an affair with a married man.
Mr. Trengove shoots the film in intimate wide-screen, getting in close to the characters as they tamp down explosive feelings, often letting the spectacular landscapes break down into soft-focus abstractions. His direction is perfectly judged up to and including the shudder-inducing ending.