A Fevered Dream: Our Review of ‘Atlantics’

Posted in Movies, Netflix, Theatrical, What's Streaming? by - November 22, 2019
A Fevered Dream: Our Review of ‘Atlantics’

Love, even at the best of times can be pretty darn complicated…

Atlantics which took home the Grand Prix at Cannes this year is one of those movies that’s actually hard to explain as it straddles a sweet line with a Romeo and Juliet type of story that isn’t afraid to not only make a statement but get a little creepy too and for a debut feature that just might get an Oscar nod this year, it’s the kind of film that you can’t help but remember.

In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Suleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another.

On one end, Atlantics is a mournful ode to the extents that occasionally need to be taken in order to secure a better life for one’s self and making a pretty heavy political statement about issues surrounding quality of life in a place like this but on the other end it gets infused with a real sense of ethereal mysticism that is rarely seen in film from this part of the world which just makes for a stunningly beautiful film experience.

Writer/Director Mati Diop borrowing from her original short film that inspired this all has crafted something incredibly unique that is a fascinating confluence of styles.  It’s doesn’t always work, particularly given the mix of experienced and non-actors in the cast.  It’s through a striking visual flare that Diop ropes us into the story.

While the arc of the story is simple and effective, it’s the cinematography and music in concert with it all that gets us hooked as we dive into what is essentially a world of grief where the chances for hope and true love just feel frivolous and empty, even though we’re still holding on to them.  It all makes for a culturally fascinating experience, one that we rarely get to see on screen.  The frenetic energy of it all is quite palpable and while it can be common place in debut features it’s rare to see something this visually self-assured in a debut feature.

Ultimately, Atlantics can’t be judged by traditional terms.  It’s an experience where you should go in as dark as humanly possibly because more than anything it’s the kind of film that needs you to appreciate the moments that every single one of its characters are experiencing and especially when they don’t make perfect sense.  Atlantics is the equivalent of a cinematic dream, somewhere between pleasant day dream and visceral nightmare, making damn sure we’re never quite sure which.

Atlantics is now playing a limited run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox before hitting the streaming service on Nov. 29th

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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