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Michel de Gavre
The lives of two brothers, who live in N'djamena, are upended when they awake one Saturday morning to find that their father has left the family. They are Amine, about eight years old, playful and asthmatic, and Tahir, 15, handsome, quiet, his brother's protector. The boys go in search of their father, and find only trouble. Dad's leaving also debilitates their mother. The movies, a musical uncle, a village Koran school, a poster of a Moroccan beach, and a young deaf woman figure in the resolution. Is there any place for happiness, or is happiness only in storybooks? Written by
When Tahir and Amine wake up one morning they find their father has already left the house. When he fails to return for their football match they begin to think something is up and their mother is no help, refusing to help find him and hoping to just move past this useless man. However when the two sons start to look for their father they find that he has not been to his job in over two years and they believe that they have seen him in a film shown at a local cinema. When they get in trouble for stealing the film, their mother sends them away to a Koran school where the boys quickly realise that things will not be as good as they have been told.
Although I do not know a great deal about Chad other than where it is, it is hard not to spot that a story that contains such things as a lack of a leadership role and the dream of getting to the sea (that represents a new world) clearly has some other meaning beyond the narrative that applies to the landlocked African country. However, beyond the most obvious of metaphors, I wasn't able to read a lot of the finer points in the film but this did not mean that I wasn't able to enjoy it, because I was. The story is still an interesting one even if some subtexts went over my head. The emotions and plights of the characters are easy to read and are engaging throughout. Ali Farka Toure's score is as haunting as much of his music and it aids the emotional impact of the film without ever making it cloying or manipulative.
Moussa's Tahir is convincing and engaging while Aguid plays the little brother role well enough to steal the audience heart but without making it into a simple "cute kid" performance that is often the result of Western child performances in films. The support cast are all pretty good and everyone, from the leads to the smallest roles, come over as natural and realistic. However the main stars of the film for me were the director and the cinematographer because they produce a beautiful film that frames shots fantastically while also bringing out colour and places really. It is the sort of film you could take screenshots of and use them as pictures in your home.
Overall this is a great film that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Watching this film and countless others like it from Africa you do have to wonder why Bob Geldof decided that loads of singing white people was the best way to raise awareness of Africa Live8 is fine but why not get the global cinema chains to buy in with screenings of films like this with all proceeds going to the poverty campaign? Anyway, regardless of that this film will become known with time because it is strong enough to do the rounds. I may not know a lot but the metaphors are clear to read although, even without them the film is a haunting and beautiful piece that is well worth trying to find.
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