From the mid-1960s to the 1990s, South Africa not only imposed apartheid, but in a sense exported it. In Angola and neighboring regions, South African white armies ostensibly fought communism in a long border war. From the age of 16, white South African boys went through a period of compulsory military service.
The often grueling film title Moffie is a derogatory Afrikaans term for homosexual. As young Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) left for training in 1981, his father handed him a rolled-up girls’ magazine. For fuel, he explains, as Nicholas shrugs, clearly puzzled. In a trench much later, he forges a gentle physical bond with another soldier.
It is not a prudent decision. This army of young men is particularly brutal. The training sequences are reminiscent of Stanley Kubricks Full Metal Jacket, but with a lot more racism. Not that these young men need to be trained in racism itself. The way a group of them terrorizes a lonely black man in a train depot, where they stop on the way to camp, pains my stomach. And the homophobia displayed by the recruits is not accidental; it is vicious.
Hilton Pelser, playing the role of a mad drill sergeant named Brand, sometimes makes Jacket’s R. Lee Ermey look like Don Knotts. (For Pelser, this is an almost shocking reversal from his work in the two Kissing Booth films.) It’s about a secret neighborhood where soldiers with psychological issues mostly discussed in terms of sexuality are dispatched and subjected to other trauma.
Brummer, who bears a fleeting resemblance to a young Peter OToole, is attractive and enigmatic as a young man who finds himself in less than encouraging circumstances. The film’s script, adapted from a 2006 novel of the same name by Andr Carl van der Merwe, keeps its feet on the ground, rarely allowing the characters to express a desire beyond involving it.
Because, as the movie shows, in the world of this army, the mere act of exchanging a glance with another soldier could spark enough homophobic fear and rage to trigger a riot. Director Oliver Hermanus is also inspired by Claire Deniss Beau Travail to portray pretty young male bodies. It sometimes gets too artistic with the soundtrack, sometimes marking a Fight Club type flask playing in Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D minor, it’s a bit much, but describing the horrific specifics of this terrible military experience. peculiar man, Hermanus offers in abundance.
Unclassified. In Afrikaans and English, with subtitles. Duration: 1 hour 44 minutes. In some cinemas and available for rental or purchase at Apple tv, google play and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators. Please consult Guiding lines described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies in theaters.
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