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Atlantics Movie Review: It Is The Most Overrated Film Of The Year



Atlantics(Senegalese, Netflix)

Starring  Mame Bineta Sane as Ada,Amadou Mbow as Issa, Ibrahima Traoré as Souleiman

Directed  by Mati Diop

Rating: ** ½ (two and a half stars)

 The whole  Western civilization of  cinephiles has gone ga-ga over this low-budget Senegalese  film .The  director Mati Diop was  hailed at the Cannes  festival as  the first black woman director to have her film competing for the Palm D’Or.

All this makes for an  impressive recommendation for a film from a country  so out of the cinematic map that  even the  slightest  hint of a meritorious output  makes the  critics go weak  in  the  knees. 

If the truth be told ,Atlantics is  a  rough, raw-at-the-edges  and unconvincing love story  about a young woman Ada(Mame Bineta Sane)  whose lover Souleiman(Ibrahima Traoré) leaves by sea  for better prospects and never returns.Like Ashwini Bhave  in  Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog, Ada  waits for  Souleiman while she is  engaged  to marry  into an affluent family.The fiancé of course  is unworthy  of her.

 But  of course.

While the economic  dynamics of  the town  of  Dakar are  depressingly authentic, the  love story seems  extremely  feigned .  In a romance so intense and true why would  the man sail off  without informing his beloved? What follows is even more unconvincing with the ghost  of the now-dead Souleiman inhabiting a young detective Issa(Amadou Mbow) who sweats and  rolls his eyes  and acts  possessed  in this depressing drama  of dispossession.

Later all the girls waiting  for their lovers  to returns, begin to behave like possessed spirits ,demanding their absent  lovers’ wages from  a unscrupulous builder.All this makes for a laughably  untrue portrait of true love.

While the squalor and  despondency of  acute poverty in  the  Senagalese  town comes through  in the  scenes shot  in  crowded  dusty  streets and  cramped houses with mattresses serving as  beds, the romance  at  the heart  of  the plot is cold and bereft  of passion. Though I liked the  idea of women waiting at a dance club  for the men(who are at sea) to return the longing and  the waiting  for love are  seldom captured  in  the  plot  in shades  of believability , let alone emotional  honesty.

Atlantics uses  real locations and  locals characters  to  give us  a feeling  of being culturally informed. But at heart, it is a con job.

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