More films than ever are tackling homosexuality in it’s rawest of form. Dramas such as Call Me By Your Name and God’s Own Country are looking to explore LGBT relationships and the results have been terrific. Most of these journey’s revolve around being true to yourself and falling in love with someone who opens that side of you up. What affects people in wishing to “come out” or be honest about their sexuality is the society around them, forcing many to hide their true identity with disastrous results.
The Wound is one such film.
The debut from John Trengrove revolves around heated and secretive relationships deep in the mountains of South Africa. The movie sees several young men as they go through Ulwaluko, an Xhosa initiation ceremony in which young men are circumcised in order for them to enter manhood. Xolani is a caregiver to the young boys and serves as their mentor. He is excited about the annual trip because he is able to meet up with his secret love Vija and start their sexual and romantic relationship. When young city boy Kwanda is entered into Xolani’s care, the latter soon discovers that the former is also gay. Confronted by heritage nd their own sexuality, tensions soon mount between the three men.
Trengrove’s film is a brooding piece of cinema that quietly shakes masculinity, tradition, and sexuality. The power play of men within this story makes for an intriguing and utterly enriching character study. Painful procedures are placed on young men as elders force them to accept “the wound” in order to become a man. Kwanda, played superbly by Niza Jay Ncoyini, is an urbanite youth from Johannesberg (affectionately called Joberg in the film) and his confident in who he is stripped bare. Under the wing of Xolani, his own becoming of homosexuality is off-set by those around him forcing him to become their version of a man. Though he isn’t the lead of this film, Kwanda is the catalyst for Xolani’s own journey as those attempt to bind youth with an ancient ideal and culture.
Anchored by strong performances, it is lead Nakhane Touré who is spectacular and terrific as the meek character Xolani who comes alive in the shadows of a South African dusk, passionate in the angered and repressed arms of Vija. His face is a map of emotions that brood under hot summer nights. As Vija pushes him away only to pull him close, Xolani’s turbulent emotions remind him of the conflict within him and Kwanda’s eagerness to be open adds a layer of resentment to the proceedings. Touré gifts us one of the best performances, in this case, and opens an interesting dialogue about a culture that’ll allow you to suffer and how repression can torture us all.
A sun-soaked exploration of sexuality, you’ll urge the men to find comfort and solace within themselves and find love up on the mountain. The film presents questions on what it is to be a man as well as the pressures of family and culture. As Trengrove’s beautiful film unravels, it becomes more apparent that disaster is about to strike, culminating in one of the most poignant and haunting endings of the year.
The Wound is out in cinemas now!
Read our interview with director and star!