This South African film would appear to tread a well-worn path; and it's certainly true that the military training (and also war itself) is hell genre is one that can often feel over-familiar. Many of the tropes we know well are there, but this stands out for a couple of reasons. Telling the story of the white male experience of conscription in apartheid South Africa is an under-explored context in cinema; and to do so from a South African, coloured director makes this all the more striking. Also served by a disciplined running-time, the film manages to examine a particularly (Afrikaans) brand of white South African toxic masculinity with an unflinching but compassionate eye. That the legacy of this still haunts South Africans of all ages and races makes this all the more important. The title is an Afrikaans slang word used to offensively denigrate gay people, and it's this territory that the film specifically deals with; it's often a hard watch, but never relentlessly so and never excessive. Though it is very much rooted in the local context, it will work well for viewers no matter their nationality. This film suffered from an abbreviated cinema release due to lockdown, and deserves a wider audience.
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Nicholas has long known he is different, that something shameful and unacceptable in him must stay hidden and denied. But South Africa's minority government are embroiled in conflict at the Angolan border and all white young men over 16 must serve two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime and its culture of toxic racist machismo. The 'black danger' is the real and present threat; what is wrong with Nicholas and others like him can be rooted out, treated, and cured like cancer. But just when fear pushes Nicholas to accept unspeakable horrors in the hopes of staying invisible, a tender relationship with another recruit becomes as dangerous for them both as any enemy fire.
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