Director: Oliver Hermanus
Cast: Kai Luke Brummer; Ryan de Villiers; Matthew Vey; Stefan Vermaak; Hilton Pelser; Wynand Ferreira; Hendrick Nieuwoudt
Run time:104 mins
Synopsis: A young man drafted into South Africa’s military knows he is ‘different’ and must keep his sexuality hidden. However, when another recruit develops an intimate relationship with him, they both must face the dangers of exposure.
Languages: English, Afrikaans
Acclaimed South African director Oliver Hermanus [Shirley Adams (2009); The Endless River (2015); Beauty (2011)] brings us this visceral, South African drama Moffie as his fourth film.
It is adapted from André Carl van der Merwe’s semi-autobiographical 2006 novel of the same name, which was based on his experiences as a gay teenage conscript sent to fight in the South African Border War in the early 1980s.
The title of book and film, Moffie, is a common Afrikaans anti-gay slur, and is used to set the tone of the story’s toxic masculinity.
The South Africa of 1981 is the setting for this intense depiction of a young gay man’s army training under the apartheid regime. As the military is ordered to defend the homeland against invasion by Angola, all white boys over the age of 16 are conscripted. Teenager Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) is no exception. Exposed to a relentlessly macho and brutal culture of the army’s institutionalised racism and virulent homophobia, he dutifully follows orders and keeps his sexuality invisible. But when a powerful attraction to fellow recruit Dylan (Ryan de Villiers) becomes impossible to resist, Nicholas realises he must fight the expectations of masculinity imposed upon him, mainly by his platoon leader, the sadistic, racist, homophobic Sergeant Brand (Hilton Pelser), who bullies and humiliates the most sensitive young recruits.
Moffie is beautifully shot by Jamie D Ramsay, and boasts a superb soundtrack that ranges from Bach, Vivaldi and Schubert’s ‘Piano Trio in E-flat major’ to pop tracks of the period, including a Rebekah Thompson version of the legendary Rodriguez’s ‘Sugar Man’. The ensemble acting is all round excellent, ensuring that the film pulls no punches in telling its gripping tale.
Moffie was shown at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival 2020.
It is released on Friday 24th April on Curzon Home Cinema
Images courtesy of: Curzon Home Cinema