Moffie is a new film from South African director writer-director Oliver Hermanus that was set to open in cinemas internationally before the coronavirus pandemic happened. It is now being released on streaming platforms. The film follows a gay teen in his required military service with the South African military on the border of Angola in 1981, and has been making the rounds on the festival circuit.
Wrote The Guardian: “Moffie, the film’s title, translates as a derogatory gay slur, Afrikaans for ‘faggot’. An undeniable homoerotic charge runs through scenes set in army barracks, with glistening male bodies lavishly observed and bringing to mind the graceful legionnaires in Claire Denis’s 1999 film Beau Travail. The quiet, closeted Nicholas finds himself drawn to new recruit and provocateur Stassen (Ryan de Villiers), but Hermanus treats any love story as subtext. In doing so, he’s able to turn his attention to the visceral sadism of the South African National Defence Force, critiquing the emotional and physical toll of such a toxic regime.”
Wrote Variety after a screening at the Venice Film Festival: “Just about every shot, every cut, every music cue in ‘Moffie’ is aesthetically considered and thematically connective, yet the film never feels overdetermined or airless: Vast, tacit emotion swims to the surface throughout, up to a coda of such suspended, silently symphonic yearning, it fair takes your breath away. Hermanus’ young ensemble plays it with sensitivity and skill, but this is a director’s triumph first and foremost: a dogs-of-war hellride of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ intensity, a queer coming-of-age meditation with something of ‘Moonlight’s’ salt-on-skin tenderness, and a scorching evocation of South Africa’s Border War shame with no major precedent in a national cinema still working through its blind spots. “
The film was released this week on the Curzon streaming platform in the UK. Curzon released the following trailer, and it has received great reviews, so we can hope it also hits a U.S. streaming platform soon.