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Denis revisits Africa, this time exploring a place rife with civil and racial conflict. A white French family outlawed in its home and attempting to save its coffee plantation connects with a black hero also embroiled in the tumult. All try to survive as their world rapidly crumbles around them Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
I lived in Africa for nearly 25 years and, whenever things went south no matter whether with trivial or major consequences , a common response was "AWA," Africa Wins Again.
Usually the reason some undertaking failed was attributable to human intransigence and stubborn refusal to be accommodative, but the results were similar to those experienced when a plantation or garden was left untended. Africa reclaimed the situation (or the plantation) and things quickly returned to it more "natural" state, as if any traces of human intervention had been fully erased.
This story has to do with a multi-generational French family living in an unnamed African country, apparently for quite a long time, as a revolution is unfolding that is both anti-government and anti-exploitation-by-colonial-types like the family.
Aside from the utter despair for all parties concerned, it's a little difficult to see what the point of the movie was. Maybe if we had seen a little of the main characters before the revolution, their slide into hopeless refugees-to-reality would have been more telling. As it is, from the start nearly everyone seems to have already found his or her own way to deny what's going on and the viewer is more likely to feel apathy for everyone rather than any sympathy.
The "star" is a woman who apparently never owned a comb or hair brush or any clothes appropriate to her daily activities. Aside from a pile of greasy, stringy, uncontrollable, overly long hair, she is a pretty one-dimensional, forgettable character. In addition to being in total denial about what's going on about her, she also seems unaware that her "school boy" son has gone completely over the wall. At least he has the sense to shave his head, something I kept wishing the woman would do.
If the objective was to show how Africa will always win again and reduce anyone and everything to the lowest common denominator (presumably taking the racist view that whites will be reduced to the lowest level ... that of native Africans ... if they let their guard down), then it failed remarkably. Just about everyone in the movie seemed to be rather pathetic from the start. It may be true that "Things Fall Apart," but for some things/people, that was a pretty small change.
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