On the heels of my entry yesterday on another refugee drama set in an European country (Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, which I’ll be seeing in about a month)… Cineuropa describes Swooni as follows:
Swooni is the imaginary country, that better other place where lost fish meet again. This is the magical metaphor used by Sierra Leonean refugee (Amadou), to help his son (Joyeux) stay hopeful. Swooni is perhaps the big Brussels hotel, where the paths of six individuals cross, this enclosed space where emotions will reach boiling point, fuelled by the heatwave beating down on the city. Amadou and his son will cross paths with Violette and Vicky, a mother and daughter who stopped talking to each other years ago, and Anna and Hendrick, a couple having communication difficulties, on the verge of breaking up. Over the course of 24 hours, the links between the characters will come undone only to be put back together again.
From all I can gather, it seems like the audience will witness the lives of all the people that cross paths with Amadou and Joyeux, unfold through the eyes of the Sierra Leonean father and son. It’s hard to ascertain just how much of their own lives as refugees in Belgium will play out in the film. If they’re just silent observers, or are actually well accounted for.
I did find one write-up that gives some useful insight into the film (specifically, with regards to the roles of the father and son); although it’s in Dutch, and I had to trust Google to translate it for me:
Joyeux, new in Belgium, is faced with entrenched racism at the hotel… Sometimes the director dives deep into the psyche of the immigrant, who was brought to Belgium hidden in a container… Joyeux regularly relives the traumatic experience in the container and the separation from his father. On seeing the police, fearful, he dives into the shafts of the hotel. Although Swooni deals with major themes, it is not a heavy movie… there are often exaggerated and far-fetched scenes. This makes the film a delightful comedy, full of surprises. The performances are colorful… Tchakouani Vigny, who plays Joyeux, however, is the icing on the cake. Swooni is his first film. Hopefully we’ll hear more of this new star on the horizon on the Belgian film landscape.
Isaka Sawadogo plays Amadou, the father.
It probably should be telling that the son’s name in the film is Joyeux, which is French for “Happy,” which I suppose likely speaks to the filmmaker’s depiction of the character’s personality, for better or worse.
Swooni, Kaat Beels, opens in theatres in Brussels and in Flanders today, and will make its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival next month. I’ll be sure to tell our Toronto rep to add this to her list of films to see, so we can get a report on it.
Here’s its trailer: