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Love and Duty Clash in Senegalese Debut – The Hollywood Reporter


The notebook bears the mark of obsession: the names Banel and Adama are inscribed dozens of times across the pages in delicate cursive. The writer is Banel (Khadi Mani), a mercurial and expressive young woman who is dominated by her love for Adama (Mamadou Diallo). She whispers their names to herself like a witch casting a spell: “Banel e Adama, Banel e Adama, Banel e Adama.” Their union, she tells the people in their small village in northern Senegal, is the work of fate.

It’s no secret that Panel loves Adama. In the opening scenes of Ramata Tolay Si’s appearance is visually appealing but relatively perverted Panell and Adama, We see the couple digging up two houses buried under layers of sand. They work for a dream, working under the oppressive sun so they can build a home and a life outside the village. Other flashes of daily routine nod at the depth of their affection, exchanging conspiratorial smiles, anticipating glances, and loving caresses. Their offerings are peculiar to the traditionally restricted people of their village. Others frowned on the couple but reserved a certain level of disdain for Pannell.

Pannell and Adama

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A stunningly rendered world in need of a more straightforward story.

place: Cannes Film Festival (Competition)
Throw: Khadi Mane, Mamadou Diallo, Binta Rot Sy, Moussa Sow, Ndiabel Diallo, Omar Samba Dia, Amadou Ndiaye
Director and screenwriter: Ramata Tulay C

1 hour 27 minutes

Panelel rejects the agreement, which raises suspicions among the villagers. Why does she sit with her legs crossed like a man’s instead of being stretched out like a woman’s? Why wouldn’t she want to do her own laundry or tend to the field like the other wives? How is it possible, a year after her marriage to Adama, who is next in line for president, that Panelel is still childless? These questions follow the couple like flies, buzzing as they tend to their lives. Panel and Adama brush off disapproving looks and remarks because their love is enough. But the stakes of their relationship, as seen on screen, were never realized. with Panell and Adama, Ramata Tulay Si conjured up a stunning world that needed a sharper storyline.

The director’s vision is unmistakably beautiful. Sy paints breathtaking scenes with her camera, showing a great way to see the world. Colors have new levels of personality: the azure blue of the river where Adama and Panel swim early in the film shimmers in the blazing sun. There’s damage to Banel’s yellow shirt when we see her watching Adama meet the men of the village, all of whom wear complementary shades of blue. They try to convince him to take over as president, an offer he had turned down in an earlier scene because of his love for Panel. Adama, played with quiet innocence by Diallo, doesn’t want responsibility.

This decision comes with consequences. After Adama turns down the role of leader, disastrous events begin to take place in the village. An extended drought kills all the livestock, forcing the men to leave their homes in search of work opportunities elsewhere. People begin to die, spurring a steady procession of funerals, all of which Adama must preside over. This devastation has been infused with a devastating beauty and nods towards the damaging effects of climate change in countries like Senegal. Sy, along with DP Amine Berrada and the laconic score by composer Bashar Mar Khalifa, gracefully convey the evolution of the village’s ruin. The arid conditions strip the sand of its color, turning what was once a desaturated orange almost white. Cattle bodies decompose, leaving brittle, dry skin. The brown mounds mark the site of the newly excavated tombs.

The decline of the village weakens Banel and Adama’s relationship, as the latter finds himself increasingly convinced that the refusal of his position has reviled his people. As Adama spends more time on his duties, it leaves Banel suffering from the judgmental gaze of the other villagers and feeding her horrific thoughts. Her love for Adama and anger at his absence fuel her anger, which Mani plays with chilling precision. Watching Banel unravel is one of the most interesting parts of Sy. The mercurial character resembles the enigmatic woman in novels like Toni Morrison Sola and Helen Oyemi boy, snowman, bird, Reinterpretation of “Snow White”. Like these women, Panel embodies a fierce, uncompromising independence, an intimidating self-confidence and an expressive and refreshing emotional range propelled by her desire.

Banel would obviously do anything to keep Adama to herself, so it’s disappointing that the rift in Adama and Banel’s relationship doesn’t inspire the same levels of curiosity. Sai spends so much time showing the disintegration of the village that the couple who brought us up there lose out. The film falls into a kind of stupor and languid pacing, losing itself in its own images.

Returning to Banel and Adama revives the pace and brings back some of the tension. In one of the most haunting scenes, Pannell, fed up with Adama’s inattention, ushers her lover into the location of their dream home. I ordered him to dig and he did so until his hands bled. There is sinister desperation yet, a flash of terror in Pannell’s face and a flash of fear in Adama’s face. It complicates their romance and revives our interest in them Pannell and Adama By reminding us that love is a kind of horror.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.