Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Screaming Man Guilty of More than Just Noise Violation

A Screaming Man

If there is one movie genre that I find myself drawn to it is dysfunctional family units. I am not talking about outlandish and comedic dysfunction, but more the kind that take a deep look at the inner workings of family dynamics; especially films that explore tension and jealousy between a father and child. This is probably why Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s film A Screaming Man, which is opened this past weekend, was one of the films I had to see at TIFF last year.

The film looks at how jealousy between a father and son can lead to tragic results. Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) is a former swimming champion who works as the head attendant of the pool at a luxury resort in Chad. Adam’s son Abdel (Diouc Koma) also works at the pool running a lot of the daily activities. When new management takes over the resort, several major cuts are made and Adam is shocked to find out that he has been fired in favour of his son. Clouded by his anger, Adam makes a rash decision that will not only affect his son but also his son’s girlfriend, Djeneba (Djeneba Kone) in ways that will haunt him forever.

Although heart-wrenching at times, A Screaming Man did not move me the way I was hoping it would. The film is not bad by any means, but it was missing that special something that I cannot quite place. I can see why A Screaming Man won a special jury prize at Cannes 2010, as it has many elements that are award worthy. Yet as a whole, it was merely a decent film and not a great one. I think part of the problem stems from the fact that I did not find the interactions with Abdel’s girlfriend all that interesting. I understand why she is necessary to the plot, but Haroun does not bring anything new to the character that has not been done better in other films.


Where A Screaming Man soars is in Djaoro’s depiction of Adam. As a man clinging to past glories, Adam sees the pool as the place that defines him. All the other workers, and several folks involved in the civil war movement still refer to him as “Champ.” Djaoro does a great job of slowly conveying Adam’s transition from jealousy to anger to unbearable guilt. It is his performance that really brings this film to life. One of the most hard-hitting scenes in the film is when Adam decides tries to stop the events that he has already set in motion. Although Adam sees this as a moment of strength and action, Haroun’s skilled direction shows that these actions, though valiant, come far too late.

As I mentioned earlier, A Screaming Man is a decent film that has many strong moments. Yet it did not provide me with the impact I was ultimately expecting. I am not sure if it was the pacing or the girlfriend arc, but it was missing that special something to make it great.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting review.

    I probably won't have a chance to see this one anytime soon. But it does sound intriguing, I really do need to see more African films as well...

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  2. @Jack – I need to see more African films as well. The problem is finding them. So few get released in theatres and/or dvd up here. I am not even sure how long the theatrical run for A Screaming Man will be. I cannot see it being in cinemas longer than a few weeks. It will probably get a decent dvd release though.

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  3. As jack said....

    Sounds very interesting. I doubt I will get a chance to see it. Which is a shame, as I seem to miss out on lots of great or not so great films because of my blinkered view on Film

    (must be blockbuster.....)

    I am trying to branch out. This weekend I am home alone and am having a world cinema session. Just to open my eyes.

    Thanks for the review CS, sorry for my rambling

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  4. @Custard – There is nothing wrong with being a fan of big budget films. We all have our preferences when it comes to cinema. I look forward to hearing more about your world cinema session. There are a lot of great films (including foreign blockbusters) to choose from.

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  5. I havent got a wide selection if I am honest.

    La Haine is on the list, Little White Lies and Let the Right one In at the moment.

    On the look out for something else to try.

    Any suggestions?

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  6. @Custard – I have not seen La Haine or Little White Lies yet, but Let the Right One In is a great choice. I would also recommend any of the following to start:

    Caché - Thriller
    Hero - Action flick
    City of God – Drama
    The Devil’s Backbone – Horror/Thriller. If you liked Pan’s Labyrinth you should enjoy this one.
    In the Mood for Love - Romance
    Oldboy – Revenge flick
    Gommorah – Gangster film

    All should be easy to find at most major dvd rental stores.

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  7. @CS Thanks for the list.

    I am deffo going to hunt some of these down. I like the idea of devils backbone.

    You know I can't believe I haven't got around to seeing Old Boy. hmmm

    I best get to BlockBuster

    Thanks so much. Its going to be a busy weekend. I wonder if I can get 2 in a night.....

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  8. Must say that I've never seen any African films until now, for the reasons that all of you mentioned: Don't have the chance.
    One thing you wrote is something, that I deal with frequently: Films that win important awards, and I understand why, but I just don't find them really good in the whole.
    Very good review, if I ever have the chance, I'll watch this movie.

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  9. @Lime(tte) – I think sometimes films get awards based on merit; and other times they get awards simply to bring people’s attention the film which people might not have watched otherwise.

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