John Trengove’s The Wound is a thematically blunt but visually dynamic film, one built around intimate, observational camerawork and an integrity of character development. Impressively choreographing a delicate dance between tradition and modernity, while allowing his camera to mirror that dichotomy through some interesting incongruities (aqua-hued running shoes worn with tribal garb and body paint), Trengove imbues The Wound with a mythic aura, an inspired counterpoint to its tender interpersonal underpinnings. With the rural Xhosa people and their ceremony of initiation into manhood as the backdrop, Trengove could could have phoned-in a exoticized coming-of-age story here, but instead, The Wound smartly subverts those expectations throughout, most notably by focusing on the years-old parasitic relationship between two of the adult mentors and their psychological motivations for always returning to a mountain and their custom. Primarily concerning itself with differing notions of masculinity, across generations and within an traditional community, The Wound also shows out with its trio of vulnerable, expressive performances. If the end hits a bit heavy-handedly (underlining a fundamental paucity of narrative innovation), it isn’t enough to undermine the affecting, aching beauty, nor Trengove’s obvious filmmaking chops.
Published as part of New Directors/New Films 2017 | Dispatch 2.