Inxeba (The Wound), 2017
Signed up the 29/03/2017
Inxeba (The Wound) is 2017 drama film directed by John Trengove and it stars Nakhané, Bongani Mantsai and Niza Jay in lead roles. The film tells the love story between two men set in the backdrop of Xhosa initiation.
Wow I am speechless, the film exceeded my expectations and it finally gave a tragic, realistic and heartbreaking love story.
The film’s intimate shots, and the closing in of characters is extremely refreshing to see in terms of South African cinema, John was able to capture the big and small explosive moments of his characters, as they go through this process. The look and feel of it really blends well with the story, as the whites and saturation creates a mood that’s really somber, the appearances of colour creates a bit of optimism only for us to be thrust back into reality kinda like it’s story.
The performances are world class and spectacular, Nakhané’s Xolani who internalizes everything and all of that burden comes rushing out at certain moments that left my heart aching for him. Xolani’s story is pretty conventional in terms of queer cinema but the environment we find him in is pretty unique to queer cinema and it makes the film standout. Bongani Mantsai portrays Vija magnificently and the one on one moments between Xolani and Vija we really get to see how vulnerable the character really is and the talent that is Bongani Mantsai.
Niza Jay is really impressive, what a brilliant performance (I have decided to stan forever), there’s a scene where Niza’s character Kwanda looks at his reflection in the mirror, now this scene is simply amazing because Kwanda truly embraces himself, he becomes a man, he embraces his sexuality, the scene is probably a screenwriting masterclass, as it shows character growth/development just by action and performance alone, no dialogue is needed to push the scene’s agenda forward. Kwanda’s drag had my jaw on the floor, my hair fell off ‘cause it left me bald. Kwanda’s dialogue throughout the film is top 2.
Inxeba (The Wound) has three elements I always find when watching queer cinema and those elements are; The Body, The Emotions and The Environment. These three elements especially for gay male characters I found to be important as it shapes how they think, feel and love (others or themselves). These elements combined create such complex characters that when handled well, their reliability echoes. The film’s handling of the love story and Kwanda’s character reminded me of André Tèchiné’s Being 17 (Quand on a 17 ans) film. These three elements for Inxeba also exposes homophobia (internal and external) and it’s really heartbreaking to watch because, these emotions are everyday things for thousands of South Africans, and we live in a country with people who are hell-bent on not progressing that we’ll keep getting these heartbreaking queer stories because being afraid to be yourself for fear of your life is queer culture in South Africa.
I noticed that one of film’s themes is “wanting things you can’t have”, because almost every player in film wants something they can’t have, be it fancy shoes, acceptance, or even love. They want these things knowing that they live in a world that makes it unrealistic-ish.
There’s a scene that happens in a field, the only sounds we hear is those of the insects and we just see two silhouettes (Xolani and Vija) here John reinforces the “wanting things you can’t have” theme only this time it’s more painful, yet sensual at the same time, the scene leaves us with optimism ‘cause we think just maybe a happy ending?
John Trengove reminds us again about “wanting things you can’t have” with one of my favourite scenes of the film. The scene takes place at a waterfall, again it’s still between Xolani and Vija and they only sound here is of the waterfall, here we truly see the impact of wanting things you can’t as Vija uses the rough waters to calm himself (cleanse) and Xolani becomes an extension of the rough waters and tries to sooth his lover and they embrace, both deep down still realistically knowing that they could never be together, and the events of the following scene enforces that and that’s when convention takes over but here in South Africa, the conventional ways of the story is refreshing.
The last ten minutes or so of the film are so heartbreaking and all I can really say is wow. Look at what love makes people do, my heart is still pounding. At the end of it, this movie is really something beautiful, a probe of sorts into a subject matter that’s never really discussed in South Africa.
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