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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After the twenty-year period of silence following the success of 'Touki Bouki', Mambéty's second film gives its satire a more analytical frame. The quasi-allegorical narrative structure explores the relation of past to present within a specifically-though exaggerated-political frame; its events are specifically set in a collective context, where the continuing legacy of imperialism as it effects relations gendered, sexual and economic relations in the (post)colony. Returning to her village as a fabulously wealthy citizen, for whom wealth is also index of damage, literal prosthesis-the arm made of gold!- Linguère Ramatou is something like 'Touki Bouki's' Anta some decades on, returned to take revenge on Dramaan Drameh, the man who abandoned her and has since taken up a role as a comfortable, well-liked bar owner-and a kind of de facto, unofficial mayor-within the still impoverished town. The devil's bargain-that her wealth will be that of the village if they execute him-is not only index of personal revenge, a kind of just deserts for the past sins of patriarch-Drameh paid false witnesses to testify that he was not the father of her child, leading her to be driven out of town and to a career as a sex worker-but of the inhuman and dehumanising bargains of global capital, the mendacious ways in which continuing underdevelopment and the power relations of the centre-periphery relation structure the life it's possible to live. Ramatou simply serves as the agent of the ways in which collectives are divided-whether by the structures of gendered power relations or by the 'hyena-like' rapaciousness the promise of money brings. Such economic structures rely on the mythic realities that any dream can be bought, and that its fulfilment will invariably come at the expense of others. Through a satirical broad-brush, Mambéty seeks to make such bargains specific, rather than the abstract underlay of virtually every human interaction; it makes a vivid and convincing case whose laughs have the sting of accuracy.
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