art in all its forms

art in all its forms

10/1/11

FILM REVIEW: Better Mus' Come, The Warrior

TT Film Festival 2011

There is a lot happening in Storm Saulter's Better Mus' Come. I found myself no longer grasping for plot, but rather searching for a space beyond the narrative and between the images. This is a bold kind of film with a lot of energy, stunning images and unforgettable moments.

The film is set in Kingston, Jamaica, in the late 1970s as gangs war. It would be easy to explain the gang warfare at the heart of events at the film by blaming politics, but there are other forces in operation as well: economic, social, cultural and even in terms of gender. The film makes no didactic points about governance but it places human relationships at its core. Some of it is heavy-handed and at times I yearned for a more simply edited story. But at the end, it was a moving treatment of a seldom depicted moment in Caribbean history. ***/4



I have never forgotten The Warrior since I first saw it in 2003. And in particular I will never forget the moment when we see the warrior at the centre of the movie suddenly uprooted from a desert landscape and placed in snowy mountain peaks. In this a premonition? The viewer is disoriented and startled by the beauty before her. But the film's director Asif Kapadia adds a sly touch: when the warrior--returned to his desert landscape--looks down he sees ice beneath his shoes. Is he cold inside? Has he been standing still through the seasons?

To describe the film's plot is to take away one of the pleasures of the movie. But this much can be said: there are elements of the classic Hollywood Western and of the action adventure. Watching the film for a second time, I was struck by how perfect it is: the actors have faces that were meant to be filmed. There are amazing moments of dialogue--particularly one involving a blind devotee--and perhaps one of the most unforgettable endings of any film in the last decade. Watching again, I had a re-enforced feeling that I was watching greatness of a special kind unfold. The film is not ostentatious and works within a simple confined framework. But how well it works. ****/4

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