TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Neptune Frost’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 11, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Neptune Frost’

Neptune Frost has one of the funniest lines in all of the festival so far. Innocent, a man hanging out in a random eatery in Rwanda, meets Neptune (Cheryl Isheja). He tells her “a man who eats a whole coconut trusts his own anus”. That’s just one of many moments of levity in a film with characters with complex histories. They flock to a dimension that coexists with the one viewers normally see. Another person making that pilgrimage is Matalusa (Bertrand “Kaya Free” Ninteretse), whose brother Tekno dies due to a police related violence in the coltan mine where they work. Both Neptune and Matalusa express their sorrow and other emotions through words and song. This genre mashup film has set piece numbers galore.

Neptune Frost has divided critics. I personally draw comparisons to Lav Diaz’ qausi-successful attempts at different genres. What puts this above its predecessors is how approachable it is for an experimental film. Science fiction films and musicals require its scenes to have the set pieces, and as I wrote above, it delivers on that respect. But another thing that elevates this is its breathing moments. Here, Matalusa and Neptune reminisce about Tekno and the Civil War, speaking of those different times with the lucidity of people who are healing. The film depicts the cycle where Black people built their own utopias and having either fellow Africans and foreigners destroy that utopia. This is a celebration of the former and a clear headed preparation for the latter.

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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.
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