MISAFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Moko Jumbie’

Posted in Festival Coverage, MISAFF 2017, Movies by - July 30, 2017
MISAFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Moko Jumbie’

Trinidad and Tobago is beautiful but the film doesn’t oversell that and wisely so. Sure, there are establishing shots of the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. But it’s home so the nature and the rustic homes within it get equal camera time. It is home, too, for Asha (Vanna Girod), a growing young lady from Britain.

Asha’s staying with her aunt Mary (Sharda Maharaj) and drifter uncle Jagessar (Dinesh Mahara). Mary and Jagessar’s grandparents came to Trinidad from India to work on sugar plantations. They came to replaced the freed African slaves. The tensions between Trinidadians of Indian and African descent still exist and seeps into the film.

These tensions, then, manifest on a personal level. Mary reluctantly rents the old house next door to a black family with a teenage son, Roger (Jeremy Thomas). As is with films like this, innocuous glances from one porch to another deepen into desire. Despite Mary’s snide remarks, Asha falls for Roger.

Someone robs Asha’s family’s home and Roger or someone in his family are prime suspects. She decides to investigate him on her own, which inevitably gets them closer to each other. And with their closeness come the presence of spirits. These spirits come in both good and evil nature, both interfering in the lives of the living.

The story finds the country’s spiritual roots, infusing the film with magic realism. I’m glad to find the introduction of these otherworldly elements. It makes an otherwise simple film more fascinating. Sure, the juxtaposition of race and the paranormal, as self aware as it is, is still inherently problematic. But the film hints at writer-director Vashti Anderson’s unique vision, something I’m curious to see of more.

Moko Jumbie will have its Canadian premiere at MISAFF on Thursday, August 4 at 7:00 PM at Cineplex Mississauga.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.