This is one film that I'm really curious about and hope to see sooner than later. Despite S&A reader reactions to it when I first profiled the film (mostly negative if I recall correctly), I'm intrigued by the subject matter, and the fact that reactions from from those I know who have seen it have been quite polarizing makes it even more enticing. I love it when a film divides passionate audiences.
It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, screened at the Venice Film Festival, and later made its Stateside debut at the AFI Film Festival just a month or so ago.
It's one of a handful of films we've profiled this year that explore some angle of the African immigrant's experience in Europe, to put it broadly. And if the below clip (the film's opening sequence), along with the film's synopsis are of any indication, this is one that's primed for controversy.
TItled The Invader, the film stars Burkinabé actor Issaka Sawadogo and Italian actress Stefania Rocca, as Amadou ("a robust and bold illegal immigrant"), and Agnès ("a married upper-class woman who works in the real-estate and artistic sectors"). The pair meet, get involved against all expectations, and have an intense but brief love affair. When they break up, Amadou’s life "takes a turn towards desperation and violence."
Suffice it to say that things don't end well ;)
Its full synopsis reads:
Amadou, a strong and charismatic African man, is washed up on a beach in southern Europe. Fate leads him to Brussels where, full of optimism, he tries to make a better life for himself. Exploited by traffickers, his daily life is slowly drained of hope, until he meets Agnès, a beautiful and brilliant businesswoman. She is seduced by his charm and force of character, while he projects all his hopes and dreams onto her. The illusion quickly shatters, and Agnès breaks all contact with Amadou, who little by little sinks into destructive violence, struggling with his inner demons.
This little bit from a Cineuropa review might help further (it debuted on the Lido at Venice to a packed house):
Amadou, on the run from his native country and from those who brought him, welcome him and feed him, clings desperately to the interest Agnès shows in this strong and brazen man, the antithesis of her close circle. However, soon the truth will inexorably come between “Obama” (as Amadou calls himself) and Agnès, turning them into archetypes of their social class: he a criminal; she a respectable person who gives money to the needy more in order to keep him at a distance than to help him. Amadou does indeed need money, but this isn’t what he desires.
The film is Belgian Nicolas Provost's feature debut; and I just learned that it'll next screen at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival in early January – a festival that also serves as a showcase for Oscar hopefuls.
When it screened at the AFI, I was offered the opportunity to receive a screener of the film, but one thing led to another, and that never happened. I hope it passes through NYC at some point soon so I can check it out, and of course, share my thoughts on it afterward. And if I think it sucks, well then, I'll say so.
In the meantime, 2 video clips follow; first, immediately below is the *revealing* teaser trailer of the film (Warning: It's NSFW); and underneath it is a longer, 6-minute profile of the film which is partly in French, Dutch and partly in English, and not subtitled. But I share it partly because it includes other scenes from the film which we haven't seen yet, as well as interviews with the Issaka Sawadogo (it's in English) about his role:
And here's the 6-minute profile of the film: