Sunday 17 December 2017

Movies: Un Homme qui Crie ***

(Club, IFI)

Paul Whitington

Mahamat Saleh Haroun's A Screaming Man is set in Chad, one of the poorest, most unfortunate and persistently war-torn countries on the planet, but initially you'd hardly know it.

The film's protagonist, Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) has carved a nice little life for himself: a former swimming champion in his distant youth, he now works as a pool attendant in a posh hotel.

'Champ', as the locals call him, loves his job and he has managed to get his son Abdel (Diouc Koma) a gig by the pool as well.

But Champ's head is in the sand: his country is embroiled in a civil war, and his implicit denial of this hard reality is about to put him -- and his extended family -- in harm's way.

For much of Un Homme Qui Crie you almost feel like you're visiting one of those penned-in third world tourist resorts, and Champ's pristine pool symbolises his failure to connect with Chad's broader reality.

He drifts about on an old motorbike, refusing to acknowledge the gathering storm clouds, and for at least its first hour the film is stylishly and memorably paced and shot.

But the action drives Champ towards a decision that hardly seems credible given his previous behaviour, and this slightly undermines an absorbing drama that provides a rare insight into life in this forgotten central African state.

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