TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Atlantics’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies, TIFF 2019 by - September 11, 2019
TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Atlantics’

One of the themes thus far of TIFF 2019 has been alienated labourers and class conflicts. From Made in Bangladesh to Mati Diop’s Atlantics, the contemporary world program in particular has made careful representation of the myriad of class conflicts occurring across the globe.

Diop’s feature debut takes a unique spin on such a story, situating the plight of two young lovers, Ada (Mama Sané) and Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), amidst growing worker discontent in Senegal. Their romance may ultimately be doomed. Ada is to be wed to a wealthy man, and Souleiman, who hasn’t been paid in weeks, desperately heads to sea with his fellow workers in search of a better life. What ultimately proceeds is a striking tale of love, loss, and the possibility of a better future.

There’s a real Claire Denis vibe to Mati Diop’s Atlantics. The same sort of deeply ingrained textures and simple narrative frameworks that take on heightened significance is notably present here. In particular, the cinematography and editing take on striking similarities to Diop’s former collaborator.

But Diop’s work is firmly her own. The film’s final shot in particular is one of the most striking images in the film, and one that feels very much like a personalized authorial statement. That is has taken Diop this long to properly get a chance to make a feature is damn near criminal considering her prolific short film career. This is a very strong feature debut that you will feel compelled to re-watch again, and again.

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Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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