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A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order. He deals with corruption, greed, problematic family members, the locals and the changing from his traditional way of living to a more modern one. Written by
Brad Yasuda <email@example.com>
The pace of this movie is as languid as life in a sun-baked country. But stick with it. Even when the plot is predictable, the action is not, nor are the characters. Believing he has come into money from a successful relative in Paris (who is shown sweeping streets, far from wealthy), a proud middle-aged Dakar man with two strong-willed wives and several children tries to cash the money order (mandabi). He encounters catch-22 bureaucracies, his friends all become borrowers, his creditors turn ugly, and con men latch on to him, but Ousmane Sembene (the director, and one of Senegal's most important writers) leavens the frustration with humour, and even manages to sustain a certain amount of suspense-- not easy in a film as languid as this one. Scenes of city life in Dakar's warren like streets are realistically and straightforwardly presented, and the story, though very simple, stays with you long after the movie's over. A must if you're interested in African film, if only for historical interest.
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