In "Atlantic" trance – Culture / Next


And now, the fire: Atlantic is a beautiful movie To say exactly why and how it is is another matter, the very day of its first screening in Cannes in official selection and competition, with the maximum attention. But an impression persists: Atlantic shines under this great day with a brilliancy as strong as that which it would glow in the middle of a deep night. Its light is not from the outside but everything to him, it's film that escapes to illuminate everything else, including the Cannes Film Festival.

If the previous film by Mati Diop, a medium-length film distributed in cinemas in 2014, was entitled Thousand Suns – it will be necessary to return to seize some of the rays that today emits this first feature -, Atlantic makes its appearance before us as a unique star, filming, moreover, as an eternal ghost, the sun in person seen from the edges of the city of Dakar, which plunges every evening into the ocean of the title to let the living and the dead go to their secret rendezvous. This red sun would be the most beautiful of the characters if Ada, Suleiman, Dior, Fanta, Issa and the others did not steal the show: for these young people of Thiaroye district, the black moon remains the best allies, accomplice departures nocturnal pirogue, supernatural embrace and unyielding revenge. Are we going too fast towards the stars, instead of describing the mainland? From the Croisette to the cosmos in a flash: it's thatAtlantic, turned to sea from this coast of Dakar where it is absolutely anchored, is perhaps a global film.

Canoe. Let's go back to what we believe to be sure. For example, there is not much Mati Diop in the history of cinema. This rarity is not only related to what one can know about her by these traits that portraits sketch: that she is a woman, and black, and mixed race, and filmmaker assuming the legacy of a beautiful pan history, since she is the niece of another filmmaker, the great Djibril Diop Mambéty – Thousand Suns continued the work by inventing a sequel to Touki Bouki, the absolute film of the Dakar of 1973, and Atlantic In turn, it continues the thematic, aesthetic and political wake, and pursues it loud and clear, without hiding it and with grace. But there is something more than these landmarks: it is the fact that a film so intensely charged with its time, and being measured, by means of fiction, with the most central and most disturbing forms and forces today to the work, not only in the daily life of Dakar youth, not only in Senegal, nor in Africa, but in the contemporary world, that such a film will be victorious from this fray, to be neither to stay just that: a film, telling us the snatches of a few lives, certainly a great story of love and ghosts on the background of exile and class struggle, but after all just a story. That of Ada (Mame Bineta Sané), 17, promised to marry Omar, a rich young man she does not like, and living a secret love with the beautiful Souleiman, a worker who works on the construction site of the new Atlantic Tower – a huge skyscraper whose futuristic silhouette now hangs over Dakar.

We discover in a few scenes the parallel lives of Ada, with her secrets and confidences, who frequents quietly, with her band of friends in the fashion of the popular district of Thiaroye, the refuge of a nightclub on the edge of the ocean, where Souleiman and his friends come every night. When the boys, whose bosses refuse to pay three months late salary, go to sea on a canoe to reach Spain, the life of the small community of girls rocking, with that of Ada, a few days before his wedding. The inexperienced sailors will never reach Gibraltar, but it is said that the shipwrecked Souleiman was seen in Thiaroye … The sumptuous diurnal start of the film goes fast, clashing gracefully documentary eruptions, romantic breaks surrounded by the tumult of the streets and hugs, for invoking a magnitude, a dizziness that deceives the eye, like the Atlantic Tower – both clone of other buildings built on other shores, Arab or Asian, gray monster of ghost modernism bristling the colorful horizon , and evocation of a giant wave to the wave frozen over the city. Because, past this exhibition and the ceremonial of a wedding sifted by a veil of reticence and disarray, the territory of the story is tightened around the double work of stalking and mourning.

Shadow. The fantasy film, intertwined with a police investigation, can begin, progressively taking the place to reach peaks of intensity and surprise, at the same time as the love between the two young people deepens, beyond the border of the death. The journey to the supernaturalAtlantic It is therefore gradually borrowing from other, narrower, more intimate ways, but singularly not less alive than the thundering evocation of the early streets and building sites. Launched in pursuit of a death without rest, Ada and the elite investigator of a local police under the pressure of the rich and powerful spearhead the film in very concrete places, domestic or public, whose camera of the filmmaker accurately records all that they describe of a social and political geography, relationships of gendered and friable forces, the shabby chambers of young girls full of dreams of wealth to the kitsch comforts of the bourgeois palazzo Ada's husband, through a clinic, a police station, the cop's generic apartment. The narrowing of spaces during the plot responds to the calm and sublime immensity of the ocean, an unimaginative graveyard that does not mean what it smears, whose scansion haunts and leads to editing.

The economy of means and effects with which the ghost appears in the only glance of those remained at the dock – and in these mirrors where the dead continue to live well -, the lack of overhang of the film on his characters, the Dire and synthetic notes cast in the night of Dakar by the original music of Fatima Al Qadiri, all this sharpens a form of minimalism "black wave", a disorder with lyricism and rage decanted. The allegorical fire that burns deafly in the film's drawing-boards ends up revealing its materialistic heart: a story of possessors and possessions, powerful corrupted ones whose spirits of those swept away by the aspiration to another fate would come to avenge themselves through the bodies they have loved – with the exception, beautiful, of the investigator, gradually penetrated by the shadow of the one he tracks.

By paying attention to simple gestures, rudimentary lighting effects, and effects as sober as the divorce of voices and beings, Atlantic opens on abysses of meditative depth to the place of every figure and every place, of which he first record the materiality before visiting the many possible lives. Then all the assignments can be rewritten, as the ritual of a dawn covers the heritage of the night. It is that he tells us: rather life.

Julien Gester



Luc Chessel

In competition

Atlantic from Mati Diop, with Mame Bineta Sale, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traore … 1:45.

(tagsToTranslate) Thiaroye (t) Dakar (t) Pirogue (t) Mati Diop (t) Filmmaker (t) Atlantic Tower (t) Feature film (t) Christian Dior (t) Dawn (t) Qadiriyya (t) Fantasy (t) t) Fatima (t) Scansion (t) Earth (t) Universe (t) Allegory (t) Magic (t) Bourgeoisie (t) Trance (t) Aesthetics (t) Social Geography (t) Bereft (t) Senegal (t) ) Class struggle (t) Minimalism (t) Vertigo (t) Alfred Mame (t) Djibril Diop Mambety (t) Trompe-l


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