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Moffie REVIEW: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan De Villiers And Hilton Pelser Starrer Is A Moving And Masterly Tale About Love During Apartheid

Amazon Prime release Moffie is a moving tale about the cruelty of army life and the smothered sexual affections of a young man in macho denial. Read the full REVIEW here.

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Moffie REVIEW: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan De Villiers And Hilton Pelser Starrer Is A Moving And Masterly Tale About Love During Apartheid

From South Africa comes this excruciatingly evocative war drama that trails its young protagonist Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) to his sexual and emotional awakening. Amidst the turmoil of war and racism during Africa’s infamous apartheid, Nicholas must struggle with a third level of crisis. He is gay.  Nobody knows it. His parents are overjoyed when their son is recruited into the army. They can’t wait for him to man up.

The first interlude of Nicholas’ initiation into army life is a nodding homage to An Officer & A Gentleman and all the other war-weary epics on the  young hero being initiated into a life of state-sanctioned  brutality. Nicholas hides his dread and anxiety, internalizes his repugnance  for  macho  violence that war signifies and  makes every  effort to ensure he doesn’t appear effete, as  his vicious army  senior(Hilton Pelser, sufficiently stolid) breaks down Nicholas’  defences, makes a  man  out of him.

The film is remarkably   astute in its depiction of  Nicholas’ turbulent  feelings and their  burial deep  in his subconscious for no one to  see or touch. But  who can   stop karma? When a mutual attraction  happens between  Nicholas and a fellow-cadet Dylan(Ryan de Villiers) Nicholas fights  the attraction with all his might. To be gay in the South African army in the 1980s is to be declared  a “moffie” the  local word  for faggot and to be locked  away and administered  electric shocks in an asylum.

 The cruelty of army life and the smothered sexual affections of a young man in macho denial is depicted with a lingering sensitivity. The director never allows us to feel sorry for  Nicholas. Instead  he focuses  on bringing out  Nicholas’ determination to overcome the life  of suffocation and denial. So that one when an erotic  interlude of tenderness in the trenches  ensues between Nicholas  and Dylan it  changes the tenor  of terrifying self-abnegation.

 The  mortifying humiliation  of a young gay man in a society  run on  the  rules of  bullying is so  vividly etched into the  aggressive landscape that I felt I was  watching  the  most frightening  horror  saga of  modern times. The horror of not being oneself.  Moffie is masterly and moving in its portrayal  of emotional bleakness  and  amorous atrophy during wartime. A must watch.

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