A SCREAMING MAN (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2010)

Adam (Youssouf Djaoro, so-so, despite acting prizes), the fiftysomething protagonist of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Un homme qui crie, is dignified, composed, quiet; the title refers to his suppressed turbulence, his inner Munch. In N’Djamena, he is the pool attendant at a prestigious hotel; the former champion swimmer is proud he was the first person to have such a job in Chad. Adam is also proud of his twenty-year-old son, Abdel, whom he has gotten a job as his poolside assistant. Adam’s perfect life, though, is now shattered: the hotel has now been privatized, and the owner, Madame Wang, sees no justification for two employees at the pool. Adam is demoted to gate attendant, replacing the current occupant of the job, who has been let go. Abdel explains to his father that he also has “obligations.” (Abdel still lives at home.) Is there a way, perhaps, for Adam to get his old job back? Chad’s long civil war continues. The district chief has been hounding Adam for a contribution to the war effort. One day, the police come to take Abdel away to impress him into military service. The young soldier suffers a fatal injury in combat. Adam is the image of guilt as N’Djamena evacuates in the face of incoming rebels.
     Much of Haroun’s filmmaking is excellent; this includes, late, a haunting traveling shot to the Chad River. However, my synopsis of the plot should suggest how ridiculous and schematic Haroun’s script is. I could not agree more with the politics of this film, its denunciation of globalization, the current expansion and repackaging of colonialism/capitalism. But Haroun makes his case thinly and melodramatically. I also did not like his Abouna (2002); however, his Daratt (2006) gave me hope. I am now done watching his films.

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