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Germán de Silva,
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Present-day Chad. Adam, fifty-five, a former swimming champion, is pool attendant at a smart N'Djamena hotel. When the hotel gets taken over by new Chinese owners, he is forced to give up his job to his son Abdel. Terribly resentful, he feels socially humiliated. The country is in the throes of a civil war. Rebel forces are attacking the government. The authorities demand that the population contribute to the "war effort", giving money or volunteers old enough to fight off the assailants. The District Chief constantly harasses Adam for his contribution. But Adam is penniless; he only has his son.... Written by
By far my favourite film I've seen so far this year, A Screaming Man is an extremely captivating and thought provoking film that doesn't have to try too hard to get its ideas across. I think it says a lot without having to say so much, and in that simplicity, the viewer can find a whole world of complexities lying under the characters and their tale. I don't know why but this film just really spoke to me on a lot of levels, as a employee, as a son, and as a man. I'm really glad to have decided to check it out as I had originally thought this film would be unrealisable to me and possibly boring, but it's quite the opposite, It's a film I'm going to be thinking about for quite some time and engaged me thoughtfully the entire way through.
Meet Adam, he's is fifty-five years old and has spent thirty of those as the pool manager at the nearby hotel in an unknown village in the country of Chad. Adam is content with his life as it keeps him considerably happy and even allows for his son to have a job as his assistant. But all of that changes when the hotel changes hands to new owners, unfortunately they do not see the worth in this long time employee and former swimming champion. Complacency gets the best of Adam when he is informed he no longer the pool assistant, and instead manning the front gate of the hotel. This shift to a job he does not like is further impacted by jealousy as he watches his son take over the position he never wished to give up. What is more is that Adam's village is become a more hostile place by the day, as warring rebels seem to draw closer to home. It is here that Adam makes a regretful choice with the leader of the resistance movement, leading to the heartbreak for himself and his family. Can Adam learn to accept his fate and make better the things he did to try and divert it, or will he be lost in the growing turmoil of war and suffering that will leave him A Screaming Man?
Wow, I did not expect this movie to be this way. I actually thought this film would be slightly jarring given the title, but no real screaming or profuse anger exists here; the screaming is done within the mind. And what a mind to try and unravel, Adam is easily one of the years best characters and performances. It's certainly a quiet performance, but it says so much without having to, I really enjoyed that about the character, he wasn't entrenched in some well said dramatic dialogue, instead it's felt and experienced along with the character. Youssouf Djaoro is ridiculously on point with the role, capturing all the confliction and anger of Adam in a single glance, I really felt for and rallied behind this person from the start; easily the best performance I've seen this year, just so perfectly done. The story itself is surprising and the emotions presented within feel really honest. The film also allows for brilliant moments of humour and introspection to go along with its more serious events, and the world around Adam is smartly realized. The pacing of the film is really solid, and the direction is flat out brilliant, the story wouldn't of worked without director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun eye for nuance and simplistic effectiveness. I found parts of the film quite intense though there is little action in the film, the title of the film is apt in that way, no one screams, but the strength of the story doesn't require them too, it is written all over their faces with brilliant ability. I only really take issue with the ambiguous ending which left me confused at the films final events, I suppose it's open to interpretation this way, but I think it wasn't really necessary; perhaps the director felt without it the film would seem cliché, but I found everything up to that point brutally original and eye opening. Overall I just really loved the story, and a better film could not be made from it, this is a very close call with cinematic perfection in my eyes and one that will most likely to remain at the top of my list come years end, quite happy to have been afforded the opportunity to travel the dusty roads and narrow alleys with this character. If I can track down a copy to buy, I most certainly will by it without hesitation.
So I truly do recommend this film as a great example of effective filmmaking. I didn't know what I was going to get with this one, but the results we're overwhelming in a good way. If you get a chance to see this film, do not pass it up, as far as dramatic films go for the year, this is among the best you'll find. Unfortunate that it's joint sponsorship will make it ineligible for consideration in the AMPAS foreign film category, perhaps a group such as the Hollywood foreign press (Golden Globes) who define the category as foreign Language will show it some love. Either way, A Screaming Man is an extremely well played meditation on what it is like to have your world flipped upside down in a heartbeat, and how one makes amends with the unpredictability of life. Highly Recommended.
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