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A once-prosperous Senegalese village has been falling further into poverty year by year until the village's elders are reduced to selling town possessions to pay debts. Linguère, a former resident and local beauty, now very rich, returns to this, the village of her birth. The elders hope that she will be a benefactor to the village. To encourage her generosity, they appoint a local grocer, Dramaan, as mayor--who once courted her and will now try to persuade her to help. In fact, Linguère has returned with the intention of sharing her millions with the village but only in return for an unexpected action. This plot twist brings human folly and cynicism into sharp focus. Written by
Bruce Cameron <email@example.com>
Dürrenmatt's play The Visit is one of the best stories ever told about guilt and honesty. Would it be ruined by being transferred to a village in Africa by a visionary director whose main quality is to create images? That's what I asked myself before watching Hyenas.
And I was surprised in the most positive way. Diop Mambéty hardly changed the plot but supplied it with wonderful images which can only be found in Africa. So why didn't he change the story? Because he didn't have to. The story of the old lady taking revenge on her home village in the most cruel way fits perfectly into the context Mambéty placed it. It seems as though the story had never been imagined to take place in Switzerland; Senegal absorbs it completely.
The choice of Ami Diakhate is maybe the most perfect ever made by any film or stage director, as regards the role of Dürrenmatt's old lady. She has the mark of death and bitterness on her, the condescension of the rich and the hatred of those who have been humiliated. The other actors are charming, also well-cast, though sometimes I felt they would have needed a little more directoral guidance. However, my untrained European eye was not expected too much of: in some Asian, Afroamerican or African movies (shame on me) it is very hard for me to tell the various characters apart, which was not the case in Hyenas.
A wonderful story, a wonderful film. A pity that I will probably never see it again.
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