Adu (Adú) (2020) by Salvador Calvo

Adu (Adú) (2020) by Salvador Calvo

The film has a lot to say but little to add to the debate of African immigration struggle. Consequently, it appears moving as long as it lasts, but its memories fade into the crowd of similar films pretty soon after it ends. This is tragic because there was a lot of potentiality in the film’s build-up.

2.5 out of 4 stars

Our sorrows mean shit

Little Adú’s eyes have extreme resilience. Maybe that is why the makers chose Moustapha Oumarou to play the titular character. From his face, one can realize the struggles he has endured. This guy is no kid. He is a hardened man who knows what he has to do for his survival. He and his sister plan to take a plane illegally out of Cameroon to Spain. The plan is dangerous because there are guards, criminals, and cruelty everywhere. But the two are brave.

In sharp contrast, Mateo (Álvaro Cervantes) is scared shit, though he mostly never shows it. As a Spanish guard who has to stop illegal immigrants from taking the plane to Europe, his underlying humanist notions simply do not put him up for the task. Furthermore, there is Gonzalo (Luis Tosar). He works as an environmentalist who protects endangered animals in Africa. This thread could have opened a new dimension regarding the problems in Africa, especially because the makers show eagerness to view it from the local perspective.

However, Gonzalo’s daughter soon steps into the scene and sidelines this important theme. As a daughter who has never been given any importance, Sandra’s story might appear needless in the context. But given what Sandra (Anna Castillo) discovers in Africa around her while being a crybaby before her father, the thread’s contrast might be the most striking element of the film. It shows that our distress is shit compared to what these people are going through.

New layers, old narratives

The three layers thus present enough scope for an overall insightful account that revolves around multiple dimensions. There was ample space for presenting the situation from both an internal perspective and an external foreign context. The collision between these two narratives could symbolize the errors the rest of the world makes while trying to understand Africa. There is a way one interprets the problems. There is another way that the locals perceive their issues. And there is the third way that bridges the gap between these two perceptions and creates a common ground which paves way for communication.

However, the film chooses to look away from probing deeper into the varied dimensions of interactions between the diverse cultures. Instead, it focuses on the usual narratives. The struggles of those hoping to immigrate, the moral dilemma of the civil guards, and the communication gap between father and daughter present substantial scope for drama. But these traditional narratives do not interact holistically to present something new. This is tragic because the film’s build-up promised much more, which renders its limitations to appear starker. The film thus has a lot to say but little to add to the debate of African immigration struggle.

Credits (from IMDb):
Directed by

Salvador Calvo

Written by

Alejandro Hernández

Cinematography by

Sergi Vilanova

Editing by

Jaime Colis


Film Notes: And Breathe Normally (2018)

Film Notes: And Breathe Normally (2018)

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