DIY Cannes 2013: A Screaming Man

Youssouf Djaoro as Adam in ``A Screaming Man.''To stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

Movie #3: A Screaming Man (Un Homme Qui Crie) (2010)

Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Grisgris

Plug your ears. Here comes a bad joke. Ahem. For a movie called “A Screaming Man” it sure is pretty quiet! I will be here all week. In all seriousness, wow is this a quiet movie. Even scenes involving the radical Chad military are just nearly silent. It’s not there’s no dialogue. It’s just simply stated and no one ever raises their voice.

Full disclosure: That’s just not my kind of movie. If you’re going to be all quiet and somber, give me visuals! Music! Anything! A Screaming Man relies on the quietest, most stoic of figures to carry the story. Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) and his son Abdel (Dioucounda Koma)  are both pool attendants at a fairly posh hotel in Chad. When new management takes over, Adam is made redundant, but they let him take on a job as a gate attendant, a far less noble job than pool attendant. Obviously. His humiliation and sadness drives the rest of the movie as money problems and an erupting civil war slowly simmer in the background.

Unfortunately, when these things do come to the foreground, it’s all pretty understated. I can’t really put my finger on what I didn’t like about this one besides the fact that it was quiet. But that’s no reason to dislike something… right? Usually if I’m not invested, the first place I turn to are the stakes. Are they high enough? While and old man’s quiet dignity isn’t riveting, his relationship with his son deepens and as Adam runs out of options financially, he starts considering some pretty dark ideas. There is military everywhere. People are dying. And what’s more is Adam, Abdel, and a couple of the other characters are quite likable. So that’s not it.

I guess it all comes down to pacing. At 89 minutes, you’d have to think that there is no such thing as slow, but somehow this one seems to march to a funeral dirge. The distance between “important” events feels like an ocean of time. Thankfully, Djaoro takes every chance to add just a little more grief and despair to every minute of Adam’s sad life. His performance truly saves this movie from unwatchability to the point where I can imagine many people seeking this film out specifically for that performance. For me though, it just didn’t click. The gears were jammed. And quite frankly, I could have done with just a little more screaming.

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