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GRIGRIS (director/writer: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; cinematographer: Antoine Heberle; editor: Marie-Helene Dozo; music: Wasis Diop; cast: Souleymane Démé (Grigris), Anaïs Monory (Mimi), Cyril Guei (Moussa), Marius Yelolo (The Step-father), Hadje Fatime N’Goua (Fatime), Rémadji Adèle Ngaradoumbaye (Fifi); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Florence Stern; Film Movement; 2013-Chad-in French & Arabic with English subtitles)
“In a crowd-pleasing way plays out as an uplifting story of an underdog overcoming his rotten fate.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Chad-born, France-based, 52-year-old Mahamat-Saleh Haroun(“Our Father”/”Dry Season”/”A Screaming Man”) passionately writes and directs this French backed arthouse African coming-of-age melodrama, that in a crowd-pleasing way plays out as an uplifting story of an underdog overcoming his rotten fate.

In the Central African Republic of Chad, in its capital city of N’djamenathe, 25-year-old Grigris (Souleymane Démé), despite a bum leg, aspires to be a professional dancer, and shows off to an enthusiastic audience his killer dance moves on weekends at the local disco.

The happy-go-lucky lifestyle radically changes for Grigris when his protective step-father (Marius Yelolo), who employs him as his photography assistant, gets hospitalized with a serious illness and the impoverished lad to earn quick money to pay the medical bills talks the local crime syndicate boss, Moussa (Cyril Guei), into letting him smuggle gasoline. Grigris also falls in love with the local prostitute, Mimi (Anaïs Monory), an aspiring model, who admires his dancing, and the two against all odds hope to start life anew together. But when Grigris recklessly tries to cheat Moussa out of the jetty cans of gasoline, he’s forced to flee the city with Mimi or be killed.

The energetic performance by newcomer Souleymane Démé gives the thoughtful film all the warmth and resolution it needs.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”