Saturday 14 May 2011

"A Screaming Man" (Metro 13/05/11)

A Screaming Man (PG) 92 mins ***

Writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s latest dispatch from war-torn Chad – following 2002’s Abouna and 2006’s Dry Season – centres on a father-son bond ripped asunder by unexpected events. Former pro swimmer Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) works in tandem with his boisterous offspring Abdel (Diouc Koma) as pool attendants at a luxury hotel. Everything changes when the hotel’s new owners enforce efficiency measures, demoting Adam to a lowly gatekeeper post. Removed from the hotel’s heart to its margins, the man known as Champ is forced to take desperate measures to keep his head above water – a course of action he has cause to regret as the war creeps closer to home.

Vivid symbolism nudges A Screaming Man past worthiness: watermelons stand in for a nation being sliced up and devoured whole, while the sight of Abdel riding the family’s motorcycle-sidecar without his father hints at betrayals to come. As drama, it proceeds in a minor key, quietly fierce rather than openly enraged by the state of things, but it’s carried a long way by Djaoro, whose crestfallen looks shout louder than any words, and Haroun gets the details right: inevitably, it’s not the owner herself who fires Adam, but a minion. Timely and perhaps surprisingly universal, it’s a film that spots how the “tough decisions” imposed by management result in tougher choices still for the workforce.

A Screaming Man is on release in selected cinemas.

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