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Reviews for August 11th, 2017

The Wound

Directed by John Trengove

      Xolani (Nakhane Touré) returns to his hometown where he had grown up and had undergone a circumcision tradition called ukwaluka, a rite-of-passage, as a teenager. He serves as a mentor for a teenage boy, Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini), who's now about to undergo ukwaluka as well. Meanwhile, Xolani rekindes his forbidden gay romance with Vija (Bongile Mantsai), a married father. Kwanda turns out to be a closeted homosexual. Xolani, Kwanda, and Vija's lives remain on the line as rumors spread around the town.

      Although well-acted with a compelling premise, The Wound suffers from a shallow screenplay and a mostly lethargic second act that runs around in circles before a slightly more engaging third act. By then, though, it's too little, too late. Unlike I Dream in Another Language which opened a few weeks ago, there's not much poetry in the cinematography nor is there any palpable chemistry between the gay lovers. Many scenes during the third act feel the same, so tediousness eventually seeps in. Writer/director John Trengove along with co-writers Thando Mgqolozana and Malusi Bengu fail to bring the characters to life in a way that would make them memorable or invigorating. Also, there's not nearly enough levity to be found which would have allowed the film to breathe a little.

      It's forgivable that the ending is telegraphed early on and that the film offers no surprises, but it's not as easy to forgive the dull and pedestrian way that the plot unfolds toward that obvious third act. Even the overrated Moonlight felt more powerful and emotionally resonant than The Wound. Any modicum of poignancy here comes from the performances, not the screenplay. At a running time of 88 minutes, which feels more like 3 hours, The Wound is an underwhelming and lethargic drama that can't be saved by its strong performances.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Kino Lorber.
Opens at Film Forum.
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