starring Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou
screenplay by Mati Diop, Olivier Demangel
directed by Mati Diop
by Angelo Muredda Working from her own 2009 short Atlantiques, first-time feature director Mati Diop makes a bold impression with Atlantics. An elegant film that will hopefully lose the ungainly subtitle "A Ghost Love Story" by the time it makes its way to Netflix (where it's bound in the coming months), it's an awfully strong directorial calling card with a distinctive rhythm and point of view, its tactility and sensuousness evoking the work of Diop's former director and mentor Claire Denis without losing its own youthful verve.
Gently lifting and mixing thematic strands and images from a range of sources as diverse as Romeo and Juliet, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Derek Walcott's epic poem "Omeros," and zombie folklore, Diop appears to be after something both timeless and of the moment, a slice-of-life portrait of the migration crisis that is also about the legacies of colonial violence, as well as the way lovers from different classes behave, now and always. There's an elemental quality to her images of young people dancing, lounging, and commiserating before the sea, along with an openness to the poetry of the banal in the way she captures the wind blowing through the fabric of her characters' shirts, raising goose pimples on their arms. Sometimes the banal outweighs the poetry, as in some of the clunky gestures to pulp storytelling in the final third, which never feels committed enough to work as horror. Otherwise, this is stirring stuff, the rare contemporary fable that's firmly grounded in real soil. Programme: Contemporary World Cinema