Review | The Wound | 2017
Tradition and modernity clash in John Trengove's The Wound, a film set in South Africa's Xhosa community during an annual rite of passage in which the young men of the village are circumcised during an eight day ritual. The film centers around Xolani (Nakhane Touré), a caretaker tasked with helping, and who happens to be in love with one of the other caretakers.
What follows is an intricate and intimate exploration of masculinity as seen through a coming of age ritual meant to signal the beginning of manhood. The very idea of manhood is called into question, as both caretakers and initiates call into question the masculinity of those they suspect of homosexuality, while displaying a weak and toxic version of what it means to be a man. Comes out and states its own theme in the end, which undercuts its power somewhat, musing aloud about a phallocentric culture ultimately placing too much emphasis on the penis and shallow notions of ritualistic masculinity, but what leads up to it is stirring and often quite powerful.
The titular wound is more than just a scar on the penis, but something much deeper in the soul. It's a fascinating world through which to examine the deep fragility of masculinity, and it does so with great emotional economy thanks to a strong central performance Touré, who imbues his character with a lifetime of regret.