Something really strange happens during Proteus, set in South Africa across a swath of the 1700s, and "based on real events."  Three women, dressed in what looks like clothes from the 1960s, transcribe court proceedings on typewriters.  This review actually look on this cool thing called the "internet" and discovered the typewriters were invented over a century later.  Clothes that looked like they were from the 1960s were presumably invented in the 1960s.  And that is the most interesting thing about Proteus.  What it is supposed to be is a love story between an African and a Dutch sailor.  That is probably scandalous enough, but the fact that the two were men made things much worse.

Claas Blank (Rouxnet Brown) was sentenced unjustly to Robben Island Prison (where Nelson Mandela later was imprisoned) for cattle theft.  There, he met Rijkhaart Jacobz (Neil Sandilands).  They seem to dislike each other at first, which only means they will engage into a passionate affair.  They carry on under the noses of their fellow inmates and guards, although after years everybody eventually it is a known secret.  Proteus jumps forward awkwardly, with the viewer only knowing because the year appears on screen.  Blank's one ally is Virgil Nivens (Shaun Smyth, Steal This Movie, Three to Tango), a scientist who is in South Africa studying plants.  Nivens recognizes that Blank is a smart guy, and wants to help him get out of prison.  Nivens is also in the closet, but doesn't realize it.

Proteus is really really boring.  Writer/directors John Greyson (The Law of Enclosures, Uncut) and Jack Lewis string things out slowly, adding in other strange things like jeeps and plastic bags.  Presumably there is something beautiful and tragic about these two men, but it's never clear from how it is presented.  Blank spurns and even reviles Jacobz in front of the other prisoners, but as soon as the two are alone, they passionately go at it like monkeys.  There is never any explanation as to why Greyson and Lewis included modern element, and one never feels the weight of history upon the two main characters.  So what if the film takes place in eighteenth century South Africa?  It would be just as boring if it took place today.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 37 minutes, English and Afrikaans with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, sexuality, and language, an easy R.

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