Friday, December 21, 2012
A magnificent film by Kim Nguyen with a very-hard to watch story but in Nguyen's hands becomes easier to see while still clearly getting the straight terrible message. A true master storyteller.
Film will make you feel all kind of positive and non-positive emotions, maybe you will smile at some moments, marvel with the poetic magic, imagine the unspeakable that's never shown, shed a tear or two, your stomach and heart could ache, and more; but fast, really fast you will know that you are watching a great film.
Film tells the story of Komona, from the moment she is kidnapped in her little village by the rebel army up to the moment she returns to bury her parents. In between there are approximately two years, a slice of life from when she's 12 years-old up to when she's fourteen. Even if you try to imagine what happens you will never guess right as is impossible to imagine the unimaginable. But while you can read elsewhere details of the storyline, here will tell you that this is a story of survival under the most severe circumstances a person can endure, much more a child, but also is about making peace with yourself. It is a contemporary tragedy that does not belong only to African countries and unfortunately not only to war.
But as said from the very first paragraph story becomes easier to watch as storytelling style is simply fabulous as mixes raw realism in an almost documentary style with a magical realism that borders magic poetry. This time I'm not talking about visuals, I'm talking about how the director chose to tell his story. Filmed in chronological order, with actors and non-actors not knowing the complete script, some improvisation and with a voice-over that will guide the narrative, film becomes impressively good and story easier to digest while absolutely being mesmerizing, especially thanks to Rachel Mwanza.
Rachel Mwanza was discovered in the streets of Kinshasa, a non-actor that magnificently carries the entire film with a superb performance that recalls great performances from more mature European actresses. She is so good that everything that happens to her and around her becomes natural, as natural as it is in real-life when a child is not allowed to live her childhood and is violently pushed into faster maturity. Her magnificent performance gave her the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2012 Berlinale and the Best Actress Narrative Feature at 2012 Tribeca fest; all honors are well-deserved and hope that she collects more in the future.
Somehow I found many similarities between this film story and Beasts of the Southern Wild but they are two very different films. Didn't liked Beasts but highly liked Rebelle, the main difference is how the similar story is told and how a more experienced filmmaker can add brilliancy to the storytelling. After watching film think about the magic poetry involved in searching for a white rooster, how she becomes a " witch" or the visual presence of the ghosts. There is nothing executed alike in Beasts.
Film premiered in competition at 2012 Berlinale where won a Special Mention of the Ecumenical Jury, won the Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca and collected some more honors. But Nguyen mentioned in an interview how difficult is to get distribution for a film like this one, which is highly regrettable as film and story definitively is worth seeing. As we know is Canada submission to Oscar and let's hope that gets a well-deserved nomination as could mean that many will have a new chance to see this great film and story.
Watch trailer @MOC