Aya de Yopougon (2013) Poster

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Wonderful view of normal,African daily life
gonzalezme-56-41630517 July 2014
I loved this movie. Although I saw it with subtitles, I could understand a lot of the dialog with my High School level French. What I loved most about it was that it's a movie about African folks representing a time and a place. It's the 1970's after all - most people, even in the U.S., were not that progressive about women's roles, which is the central theme of this film. Yet, the storyline is critical of the roles merely by revealing the characters as they are. The sexism of the men, for example, is countered by some fierce come backs from the women as when they are harassed by the men in the streets who see it as a sport. The best thing about this film for me though, it's not so much the storyline but the beauty of Africa, specifically the Cote Ivoire as drawn by the artist. It reveals a view of Africa so different that what we are seeing 24/7. As someone who also grew up in a tropical, developing country, some of the scenes are familiar such as the homes built close together, and the extended families all living in one home. But make no mistake, this film is about an African country and it's delightful. The people are beautifully drawn and show an array of faces, just like in real life - young, old, beautiful, not so beautiful, men, women, children. And the music is wonderful including some Afro-Cuban old tunes which were familiar to me. I hope this film gets a wider audience - I only saw it as part of a festival of French language film. It was only one showing and the audience was sparse. But everyone that was there loved it as I could tell by the reactions. Kudos to the authors of the graphic novels and the filmmakers. I hope to see more of Aya's adventures.
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Both interesting and boring
guy-bellinger1 December 2013
Adapted by the authors, Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, from their comic book "Aya de Yopougon", the film of the same name left me with mixed feelings. I was interested throughout but, as the story unfurled, I realized I had to fight yawns. Strange as it may seem, the paradox is easily explained: the substance is rich and challenging whereas the form is dull and unimaginative. Worst of all, "Aya de Yopugon" is talky, talky, talky. As a result, boredom constantly threatens to win the game. Fortunately, the worth of the story ends up saving the day. Well, let's stay positive and concentrate on the qualities of the film. The time, place and characters (all stemming from Marguerite Abouet's experiences) attract the viewer's attention. Yopougon (a poor area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast), a seldom seen location, and the time (the late 1970s, during president Houphouët-Boigny's tenure), a rarely described period, are well documented, colorful as well as informative. Abouet knows what she is talking about and it shows. Even better, the cartoonist, through the characters she has created (Aya, a serious- minded high school student, and her two fickle friends Bintou and Adjoua), succeeds in moving from the general to the particular, the portrait of the particular district of Yopougon being a (possible) extrapolation of the whole African continent, at least as it was three decades ago. And a sour portrait for that matter. If we take Yopougon as a scale model of African society, we find that it is made of machos, womanizers, cheaters, nouveaux riches, lazybones on the male side and, on the female one, man hunters. Of course this statement needs be nuanced, but some of the evils that have been plaguing Africa are openly - and quite rightly - denounced here. Which is confirmed in the - bitter - ending : will a talented girl like Aya really be able to become a doctor as she dreamed she would ? Nothing is less certain and... less depressing. The biting social commentary is what makes "Aya de Yopougon" an ultimately watchable adult cartoon. Too bad its dull style prevents it from being the masterpiece it could have been, in the league of "Waltz with Bashir" or "Approved for Adoption". But, in the end, even though you will not have had the time of your life, you will not have wasted your time, which is not that bad after all.
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