Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat in Soulful Study of Trauma – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s the same deep intimacy and no mushy Singaporean director Anthony Chen that makes the film so beautifully observed. Ilo Ilo — winner of the 2013 Cannes Camera d’Or for best debut — creates an impactful drama about a West African woman’s struggle for survival after an unimaginable tragedy Be at Drifting. Shown by Cynthia Erivo’s haunting performance as a completely withdrawn refugee from the world on a Greek island, the study of this sensitive character also allows for glimpses of light. as she slowly opens up to the possibility of socializing with a lonely American tour guide played by Alia Shawkat.

Adapted from the 2013 novel by Alexander Maksik A marker to measure drift By the author and Susanne Farrell, the film opens with an eloquent image of footprints in the sand slowly being washed away on a beach. They belong to Jacqueline (Erivo), who at first we know nothing but an intuitive hint that she is in danger of disappearing altogether.


Key point

Solemn and stirring.

Place: Sundance Film Festival (Premiere)
Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba, Vincent Vermignon, Amanda Drew
Manager: Anthony Chen
Writer: Susanne Farrell, Alexander Maksik, based on the novel by Maksik, A marker to measure drift

1 hour 33 minutes

She kept a wary distance from everyone, lusting over leftovers on pub tables, sleeping in beach caves or abandoned buildings, massaging her feet with stolen olive oil on vacationers. cool by the sea to earn some money and run in fear when another African immigrant offers to help her. . Flashing memories show how she has transformed from a stylish, confident woman with long braids and a cold London girlfriend (Honor Swinton Byrne) to a street girl, out of place, with close-cropped hair and little possessions other than the tattered clothes she wore. .

It was only gradually that other pieces of Jacqueline’s story appeared in memory fragments. The privileged daughter of a senior government minister in Liberia, she was spotted visiting family during the violent civil war. The nightmare of devastating losses at the hands of evil child soldiers is conveyed with unsettling moments, horrifying details that are retained almost until the end of the film. Even then, sharing her trauma only seems to offer Jacqueline the most temporary relief.

The director’s handling of shocking violence is vivid and unwavering while showing restraint when necessary. How or why Jacqueline arrived in Greece is never explained, making her existence there among summer tourists as much a depiction of a sudden as well as a complete psychological state. her physical appearance.

There is a clear sense in Erivo’s portrayal of fiercely guarded yet emotional personality that Jacqueline’s path back from grief will take years and will certainly never be complete. But the film gradually opens up to comfort possibilities as she begins to spend time among the ancient ruins on a nearby mountain – the stone ruins of a once prosperous town in the 5th century BC. resources destroyed by war, rape and looting. Callie (Shahawkat), an American expat tour guide who travels with groups to the site daily, explains that the devastation happened “under the gaze of a goddess of vengeance.” Paradoxically, that age-old scene of violence seems to offer Jacqueline moments of peace.

She’s mostly still evasive about Callie’s continued publicity of friendship, lying about her husband’s return to one of the island’s resort hotels and trying to hide the fact that she’s started sleeping through the night. at the monument.

But as she tries her best to hide her injuries, Jacqueline gradually reveals herself to Callie, who is lonely and displaced in different ways. The dance of cautious connection – and possibly even the possibility of love – between two women is gracefully and delicately performed by Erivo and Shawkat, the latter of which is touchingly open and caring. while the former is closed and aloof. The final moments of the breakthrough, in which the azure waters surrounding the island hint at the promise of continued life-healing, are truly emotional.

French cinematographer Crystel Fournier, whose work featured in last year’s standout gay prison film, Great Freedomoffers a looser, cooler look here, with moody textures rippling through the nightscape.

The pacing gets a little sluggish at times, but Chen and Erivo keep you fully invested in Jacqueline’s PTSD isolation and cheer her on to accept Callie’s hand. The soothing piano and string music by Nigerian-born composer Ré Olunuga provides the ideal background for the emotionally resonating drama.

full credit

Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Premier)
Production companies: Paradise City, Fortyinesixty Films, Heretic, Cor Cordium, Edith’s Daughter
Actors: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba, Vincent Vermignon, Amanda Drew
Directed by: Anthony Chen
Screenwriters: Susanne Farrell, Alexander Maksik, based on the novel by Maksik, A marker to measure drift
Producers: Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Anthony Chen, Cynthia Erivo, Solome Williams
Director of Photography: Crystal Fournier
Production Designer: Danai Elefsinioti, Jade Adeyemi
Costume designers: Matina Mavraganni, Mayou Trikerioti
Music: Re Olunuga
Editor: Hope Chen
Actor: Jina Jay
Sales: Memento International/UTA

1 hour 33 minutes


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