An earnest effort but ultimately unsuccessful. Emotional depth cannot be achieved through lingering close-ups alone. Characters dwarfed by monumental arid landscapes don't necessarily translate into satisfying metaphor. I felt like Salgues used these techniques as a proxy for real feeling and real meaning.
Salgues's first (and, lamentably, only) feature shows the complete assurance of a master director. His cool observation of the characters and the landscape they inhabit eschews the musical and acting histrionics of many other, supposedly better, directors. The excellence of the performances and cinematography add to the sense of people living in an ironic landscape where dust and gold alike are the shit of the gods.
Devoid of the distractions or illusions of the west this is a heartbreaking, nail-biting etude, a chapter of the dislocation of a Nigerian migrant worker in the barren goldfields of Burkina Faso, fighting for a semblance of dignity to find gold in the dust between Bobo - Diouloussa and Ouagadougou. One of thousands of films about the African experience. Bring more to Mubi!