Xinali is a construction worker who lives in Johannesburg. Leaving work one day, he jumps into the back of a truck, and is taken into the deep wilderness of South Africa. At the foot of a mountain, camping alongside elders and young men alike, Xinali takes on the role of ‘caregiver’, an officiate of a frighteningly structured rite of passage: Adult Male Circumcision.
He is, however, assigned a special task. He is to be the personal caregiver of the ‘initiate’ Kwanda, whos father is rich and desires his son to be subject to extra scrutiny in order to counteract his ‘soft’ ways. As the camp gathers, Xinali is reunited with his boyhood friend, Vija, who, unknown to the rest of the group, is romantically involved with Xinali, and is cautious along with Xinali about the persecution which might follow the outing of their love life. As the film progresses, we find that Kwanda is also hiding that he is gay, and the three figures come into conflict amidst this scene of tradition, masculinity, and transformation.
Beautifully sad and terrifying, The Wound is an exceptional film that explores increasingly popular themes in a way that, frankly, I have never seen before. The feature film debut of John Trengove, The Wound was South Africa’s official entry into the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language film, and it is a wonder how it didn’t win. The cinematography shows us the luxurious sparseness of the south African countryside that is so vital to the events of the film, both materially and symbolically. And the acting is superb, which, along with the soundtrack, communicates brilliantly the very heavy issues at hand. But it is, after all, these very heavy issues which give this film its heart anyway, and I would challenge you upon the high recommendation that you watch it, that it might also break yours.