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(Senegal): Suleiman is among a group of workers on a large, towering building in Dakar who have not been paid for several months. Determined to seek a better source of income for them and their families, he and several others get on a boat and head to Spain. Ada, who is betrothed to a rich merchant, is secretly having an affair with Suleiman.  I won’t say too much more about the story, as the discovery and slow and unpredictable unfolding of the plot is what makes this movie unique. I found myself continually surprised, not at the twist and turns of the plot, but the turns of genre. What began as a socially-driven drama then became a context-driven love story that then became something more supernatural. What I started watching was not at all what I expected at the midpoint of the film. The acting, particularly by the actress who plays Ada, is excellent. The screenplay is brilliant, and the cinematography is gorgeous, particularly the gritty shots of the city next to the stunning ocean views. I also was intrigued by the music – a fusion of electronic and native sounds that creates a sense of melodrama. I found similarities with Black Panther in the way it takes a standard genre and gives it new life when immersed in a different cultural context and Jordan Peele (Us) who is a demonstrated master in weaving a social and moral conscience into the standard supernatural/horror genre. Big thumbs up from me for a stunning effort from its director, Mati Diop, whose future films I eagerly anticipate. She deserved the Grand Prix at Cannes this year for her film. (2019; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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