FILM REVIEW | Moffie – Beautifully well-told story of a young gay soldier in the South African army
It’s 1981 South Africa, a time when the country was still at the height of apartheid, and blacks were not the only class of people who were discriminated against, homosexuals didn’t have it easy either.
In the new amazing film ‘Moffie’ – based on an autobiographical novel by Andre Carl van der Merwe – beautifully tells the story of a young man called Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer – wonderful), a teenager, who, with no choice, is sent to complete his compulsory military service. But Nicholas is not your boy next door – he’s gay, and not at all out of the closet. So he has to endure two years of military service in a system that spits up and chews out young men and turns them into hardened soldiers, hardened men. It’s a culture full of testosterone and machismo. And while Nicholas doesn’t let his secret out, he falls in love with another young soldier Dylan (Ryan de Villiers). In fact, it was Dylan who initiates, and Nicholas, while a bit nervous during their first encounter, soon finds being with Nicholas very natural. But some soldiers do no adjust very well to army life (one soldier shoots himself in the head), while Dylan is sent away for unknown reasons, leaving Nicholas to endure his remaining time in the service, while still pining for Dylan, and still a moffie (faggot in the Afrikaans language).
‘Moffie’ – which was called a masterpiece by Variety Magazine – is indeed an excellent film. Director Oliver Hermanus hits all the right notes, from Nicholas’ family life prior to going into the army (his father gives him a stack of straight porno magazines), to the daily brutality he and his fellow recruits get from their Major, to the barracks scenes where the tension is palpable and tense, which is what you have when a couple dozen young men are all bunking down in the same room. But the scene when Nicholas, as a young boy, is with his parents at a public swimming pool, and he looks longingly at an older boy in the showers but is then exposed and scolded by an adult shower attendant in one amazing long shot will have you holding your breathe – it’s quite a very dramatic scene and excellently done. And at 104 minutes, ‘Moffie’ is quite a movie. Don’t miss it.
UK Release Date – April 24th – exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema