The clever thing about his film is that as El Hadj's situation gets increasingly confusing, Gomis keeps the focus tightly (and shoots mostly in close-up), resisting the temptation to preach about the general immigration crisis and the rise in right-wing politicians in Europe. And by keeping it so internalised, he ends up making very strong statements indeed. Mbengue is terrific at the centre, likeable and young, yet intelligent and thoughful, letting ideas roll around in his mind about Senegal's colonial past and its uneasy present. There's a lot going on here, even if it all feels a bit oblique and haphazard. Relationships are edgy and unpredictable, and the ending is startlingly authentic in its open-handed treatment of such an emotionally charged subject.
dir Alain Gomis
scr Alain Gomis, Pierre Schoeller, Marc Wells, Xavier Christiaens, Nathalie Stragier
with Djolof Mbengue, Delphine Zingg, Samir Guesmi, Theophile Moussa Sowie, Bass Dhem, Albert Mendy, Thierno Ndiaye, Emile Abossolo M'bo, Josephine Mboub
release US Jan.02 Sundance; UK 14.Nov.03
Home is where the heart is. El Hadj doesn't want to fall in love with Myriam (Mbengue and Zingg).
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