‘Moffie’ Review: One of the Best Films About Gay Repression Ever Is Also a Disturbing Apartheid Story

There is no more delicious agony than the one felt when you’re sitting millimeters from your crush, wondering who’s going to make the first move, or if someone will at all.

That unbearable, painful erotic tension is more or less the sustained mood of Oliver Hermanus’ shimmering and sensual military drama “Moffie,” which is Set in 1981 South Africa at the apex of the South African Border War, the film’s story of gay unrequited desire turns out to be a casing for something far more lethal in its marrow.“Moffie” is Afrikaans slang for “faggot,” and the film, which is based on André Carl van der Merwe’s autobiographical novel of the same name, attempts a bold gesture in reclaiming epithet as an emblem of power.

It’s 1981, South Africa, which means it’s not okay to be a “moffie”; effeminacy is a sign of weakness, and being gay is also illegal.

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