Review: A Screaming Man (2010)


Directed by: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun | 92 minutes | drama | Actors: Emile Abossolo M’bo, Youssouf Djaoro, Dioucounda Koma, Djénéba Koné, Hadje Fatime N’Goua

Many countries in Africa are ravaged by terror from rebel movements, including Chad. Place of performance: N’Djamena; a luxury hotel with many western tourists. Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) used to be a swimming champion of Central Africa and is the first lifeguard there. His son Abdel (Diouc Koma) assists him. The first scenes already show a healthy competition between father and son. In good harmony they kemp who can stay under water the longest. Life for Adam and Abdel is going well and for Adam his job means everything: ‘that job is my life’.

But the economic situation is deteriorating and if the Chinese take over the business, reorganization will take place. A fellow chef is fired and dramatic changes follow for Adam as well. He is demoted to a porter position and his son Abdel takes up his old position. Both cannot afford to refuse, they need the money. Abdel has a girlfriend and the money is indispensable for his future plans. At the same time, the rebels are advancing and all kinds of agencies are heavily appealing to the population to donate money or otherwise give a son to the army for battle.

Against the background of tensions in the country, economic decline and closer war violence, the story takes a turn in a classic father-son drama. Father Adam cannot and will not make a war effort in the form of a financial contribution to the war. That means that he is, in effect, handing over his son to the army that Abdel is forced to consign. This is sent to the front, where the fighting is fierce and many casualties. The film is larded with images from reports about (victims of) this war. Adam regains his job as a lifeguard, but after the ‘sacrifice’ of his son he feels much remorse about his uncertain fate. When the story progresses, when it turns out that Abdel’s girlfriend is pregnant, Adam lovingly takes her into the house, but his feelings of guilt grow. He can no longer live with that guilt and goes in search of him after a soldier reports that Abdel is injured. A journey through the desert full of developments and with an indefinite outcome follows….

The story of ‘Un homme qui crie’ develops slowly and has been kept small, the tone is contemplative. ‘Un homme qui crie’ is not a war film, but more a film about people who are influenced by the war. The developments are somewhat predictable. The film is supported by the subdued acting of lead actor Youssouf Djaoro. The images of the landscapes are beautiful and well fitted into the journey that Adam has to make. Symbolism is predominant in the little-layered story. However, the father’s dilemma is compelling and in the story well mixed with the issues of the ongoing wars in Africa. However, it remains somewhat on the surface, because the characters are not really explored. In contrast, the images are convincing, the landscapes are photogenic and beautifully captured by the camera in long shots but also beautiful close-ups. A film with a tear about a torn country, but also with a message of reconciliation and hope.

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