Thursday, September 22, 2011


I was left speechless by it. This, as you can imagine, does not happen often. Not only my being speechless, but a movie leaving me so. Skoonheid, a South African movie about a conservative Afrikaans man trapped in his conservative life. We stayed until all the credits had rolled and the lights were up. Speechless.

There is a generation of South African men who went to the army at 17 or 18 and saw and did things that no person should see or do, ever, let alone at that impressionable age. South African society (or a certain section of it), too, is known for its stoic conservatism. Men are men - they don't cry, the don't talk about things, they bring home the bread and protect their families and watch rugby and drink beer.

Skoonheid is about one such man, living "The Dream" in a conservative South African town - he has the wife, two daughters, a successful business, everything society expects from him. Only problem is that he is a closetted gay man who sees in one of his friend's young, beautiful son, something he wants. It is shot incredibly slowly, with minimal dialogue and a couple of toe-curlingly devastating scenes. The mindfuck comes in that you feel (or I did) sympathy for this man, even in a scene of such utter violence that you feel physically ill.

It is brilliant in its social commentary, the search for that abstract and fleeting beauty of youth, the danger of keeping it all in, the flaws in our society, laid bare. It being South African, it was all too familiar and that, I think, was why I was speechless. He could be my next door neighbour.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Wow. What a description. What a movie.