Atlantics (2019)
February 8, 2020 5:47 PM - Subscribe

In a poor suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another. This ghost story about migration, poverty, love - the first film by a black woman to compete at Cannes - Atlantics is streaming on Netflix.

A strange thing happens on Ada’s wedding night. First things first: she isn’t happy to be there. She’s in love with a guy named Souleiman, a young laborer working construction at a gleaming new tower which stands aloft of Ada and Souleiman’s suburb of Dakar, Senegal, a symbol of financial might that hovers over the lives of people too poor to ever have dealings there—beyond being the people who built it, that is. But Ada isn’t marrying Souleiman—she’s marrying Omar, whose family has money, unlike hers, and to whom her mother advises she speak sweetly, lest he take a second wife and show that other woman favor. Which is way of saying: the family is depending on this. So Ada bites the bullet, or tries. But on her wedding night, that strange thing occurs: a fire. (description from Vanity Fair)
posted by ChuraChura (5 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This was such an odd, wonderful, poetic little movie. I had no idea it was going to turn ghostly (a pal just said I'd like it) and I loved the first non-ghostly part as it showed me real folks' lives in Dakar. Honestly if it had just stayed a realistic social procedural following the crime of the fire I might even have been happier. But when after an hour the ghosts started showing up I was like, "oh ok, I can do this too." And it delivered on the slow, odd spectral front as well, never losing its heart as a portrait of a sad, angry moment in these lives and deaths. It's so beautifully made, unpretentiously filmed but so lyrical and gorgeous. Can't wait to see what Mati Diop does next.

If folks like this they might also like the underrated Iranian flick "Under the Shadow," which also has a neat mix of social commentary and horror (though much more typically a horror movie than Atlantics).
posted by mediareport at 9:46 PM on February 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I thought this was great. As mediareport mentions, even as it veers into a ghost story it never loses its restrained vibe - and it somehow manages to be both haunting and subdued. Highly recommended.
posted by Alex404 at 10:34 AM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Is there a school of film that could be defined by the idea that only through the fantastical can we tell accurate stories?

I found it beautiful.

There was one part I didn't fully understand, which was the police detective's connection with Ada... Was it just two parallel stories? Why did we see him making love at the same time as Ada and Souliemon? I found that a little confusing.

Went down an interesting google rabbit hole about Mati Diop and her family. I've only ever seen her uncle Djibril Diop Mambéty's Touki Bouki which is kind of... zany? They're very tonally different but thematically related movies.
posted by latkes at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2021

Every night, the ghosts of the drowned boys possess the girls back home, except for Souliemon who possesses the police detective. And the conceit in this movie is that you can see the "real person," that is the possessing spirit, in the bar's mirrors. This is shown in the scene where Ada talks to one of the creepy girls at a table in the bar: a seated boy is reflected in the mirror right next to the girl's chair.

So when the detective believes Souliemon set the bed fire, he's right -- but on a recorded computer video he sees himself, white-eyed, walking out of the burning house -- his own body was the arsonist! He races to get home before nightfall and locks himself in handcuffs to thwart his ghostly takeover. But that fails, and Souliemon-in-the-detective's-body comes to Ada. In the final sex scene it flips back and forth between showing the detective's actor and Souliemon's actor, but whenever you see the latter it's always in the mirror.

And I think that's why he has such an obsession towards Ada as a suspect: some kind of faint memory in his mind, after the ghost leaves his body every morning, of Souliemon's intense love for her.

Once the rich man was forced to dig their mass grave in the cemetery, the souls of the restless dead were finally at peace.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:46 PM on October 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ah! I should watch again now with that understanding.
posted by latkes at 5:27 AM on October 2, 2021

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