Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SFF Review: Grigris (Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, 2013)

Grisgris, screening at Sydney Film Festival on the back of its competition for the Cannes Palme d’Or, is a fascinating but largely forgettable drama from acclaimed African filmmaker Mahamet-Saleh Haroun. Grisgris (Souleymane Deme) has dreams of becoming a dancer, despite being crippled by a paralyzed leg. Though a hit on the local dance floors his impediment continually foils his higher aspirations. When his uncle falls ill, Grisgris is forced to find more work, in addition to his energetic entertaining and odd photography jobs. This leads to a dangerous working relationship with petrol traffickers and a profitable, if illegal, gambit. The consequences place his life, and those he loves, in danger.

What I found so disappointing about Grisgris was how conventional the story felt. If one has seen any film about a desperate youngster finding themselves out of their depth and in debt with some dangerous people, then little about this story will feel different or challenging.

Set in Chad, this study of an unfamiliar culture and way of life is indeed interesting all on its own. Add in the unique world of petrol smuggling and Grigris’ unlikely skills and aspirations and there is more than enough here to keep a viewer engrossed, if not fully invested for the duration. The entire film is beautifully shot and Haroun is always aware of telling his story through his images, respecting his audience to feel the most poignant of emotion themselves. When this story takes on its dark turn the ratcheted suspense results in some nail biting moments, but it didn't quite measure up to the high calibre competition.

My Rating: ★★

1 comment:

  1. It's conventional, and then aimless. I'd love to read any kind of analysis of that ending, cos I wouldn't know where to start.