Finally a teaser for the film “Skoonheid,” by Cape Town director, Oliver Hermanus, is now online. Billed as the first Afrikaans film to compete at the Cannes Film Festival, the film also finally screened earlier today at Cannes. That means the first mainstream reviews are in. They’re mixed. Here are some excerpts from the reviews as well as links:
Jordan Mintzer in Hollywood Reporter:
A closeted homosexual has the hots for his brawny nephew in Skoonheid, a plodding South African drama that feels like a short film stretched into a feature, and fails to find its rhythm despite a decent lead turn from Deon Lotz. Basically a one-idea, one-plot-point movie that tries to provide grandeur via ineffective widescreen cinematography, writer-director Oliver Hermanus’ slim exploration of repressed desire and sexual angst will be of most interest to LGBT fests and distribs … though Lotz has a strong screen presence, it’s not enough to make Skoonheid the parable on stilted South African machismo that it was surely meant to be.
Lee Marshall in Screen Daily:
The film’s dramatic tension lies not in the explicit content of many of the scenes but in the set of the protagonist’s mouth and his alert, needy but downcast eyes; or in little details in the corner of the scene, often out of focus – a mixed-race couple on the beach, a happy gay couple flirting in a gay bar where Francois sits drinking, filled with self-hatred – or the archive newspaper cutting on the wall of a restaurant that reads FREE AT LAST. It’s still a testing ride for the audience, and Hermanus doesn’t quite know how to end the film; but his is a refreshing new voice in a territory known up to now more for its township dramas, at least on the international festival stage.
Melissa Anderson at Artforum’s blog
An overcooked, protracted tale of a married, self-loathing, dangerous top, the twenty-seven-year-old South African director’s sophomore film is vying for the second “Queer Palm” (the inaugural award went to Gregg Araki’s Kaboom last year) …
The Belgian film critic, Patrick Duynslaegher:
What makes this portrait of a seemingly happily married but tormented gay man original is the fact that the tensions of his double life are deeply rooted in the reality and the mentality of contemporary post-apartheid South Africa, thus linking his self-loathing to the conservative and racist ideology of (the) country.