Viscerality has its virtues, viz: if you’re going to make a movie about the complicated ties between sexuality and masculinity, it helps to set it against the backdrop of a culture that still equates male excellence with procreation and providing — in this case, the Xhosa of South Africa. (Not for nothing does one embittered character ask, “What is the purpose of a dick?”) It helps even more to set it during the welcome-to-manhood campout following a mass adult circumcision, during which time initiates heal under the watch of their caregivers. (Manhood’s meaning has a way of taking the mental foreground when part of your own personal manhood has just been sliced off.) It’s an annual tradition, but this year, it turns out that one of the initiates has the caregivers under his watch; he’s a rich city boy whose father is worried he’s too “soft,” but his outsider’s eye tells him that he’s not alone in his inclinations. First-timer John Trengove also co-wrote, and the writing is good enough to compensate for the somewhat pedestrian direction. But it’s the acting — from the secret lovers Nakhane Touré and Bongile Mantsai, their sophisticated initiate Niza Jay, and just about everyone else — that gives the story its violent vitality.
Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes