What kind of wound is on the coronary heart of The Wound, South African filmmaker John Trengove’s debut characteristic? Is it essentially metaphorical—an emotional wound, or maybe a psychic wound? In all probability, for individuals who wish to dig a bit, nevertheless it’s not as if there isn’t loads of mangled flesh proper on the floor as nicely. (Readers with delicate sensibilities could wish to pre-emptively cringe at this level.) Set among the many Xhosa folks, who inhabit the southernmost a part of South Africa, the movie observes a real-life ceremony of passage wherein younger males journey to a distant mountain location for what quantities to an prolonged group tenting journey. Which sounds swell, besides that the very first thing they expertise upon arrival is ritual circumcision, carried out with out anesthetic, and even a lot in the way in which of prelude. A person kneels in entrance of every teenager with a pointy instrument and casually removes the foreskin, lickety-split, as if he have been clipping a fingernail. The following few weeks are spent bonding whereas slowly therapeutic. Unity and energy in ache.
The Wound isn’t a tract arguing for or towards this apply, fortunately. Certainly, Trengove doesn’t even concentrate on the initiates themselves. As a substitute, we view occasions by way of the eyes of Xolani (Nakhane Touré), a barely older man who’s already gone by way of the ritual and now typically returns to function a kind of mentor/drill sergeant, paired with one of many new children. A rich businessman from Johannesburg particularly requests Xolani to toughen up his completely Westernized son, Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini), lest the boy’s habit to iPhones and designer sneakers sap his tribal vitality. Xolani agrees, however for a motive of his personal—one which’s fraught with hazard on this explicit atmosphere, with its unrelenting emphasis on ultra-traditional masculinity. (Aside from one transient crowd shot on the finish, there are not any girls within the film in any respect.) When Kwanda tumbles to what’s happening in secret between Xolani and Vija (Bongile Mantsai), one of many different mentors, he instantly realizes that he could have some surprising leverage.
To a sure extent, Trengove (who’s white however who has clearly immersed himself in Xhosa tradition; the movie by no means seems like ethnographic tourism) has merely discovered an interesting context for what’s in any other case a fairly typical story of the closet, subcategory “popping out may nicely be deadly.” However he has a potent weapon in Touré, whose excellent, deeply internalized efficiency manages to recommend wellsprings of longing hid by a scrim of perpetual wariness. The Wound excels as long as it hangs again a bit, watching Xolani battle to undertaking the authority that his position calls for, regardless of being conscious about his personal vulnerability. Solely towards the tip does Trengove (who cowrote the screenplay with Thando Mgqolozana and Malusi Bengu) succumb to narrative expectation, engineering a predictable finale that registers as extra compulsory than deeply felt. It’s a forgivable lapse, particularly on condition that that is his first time at bat. Simply make sure to arrive on the theater about 10 minutes late if a number of penile lacerations (not graphically proven, however persuasively simulated by the actors and on the soundtrack) are greater than you may abdomen.