Beautiful. Made in the US (Brooklyn), but in African dialect (some English), with subtitles, and made by an African director, with an African cast. Excellent photography and acting, as well as fabulous costumes, editing and production. Definitely recommended if you love African cinema.
"Gurira and De Bankolé give electrifying performances .... Young’s cinematography is sensual and hypnotic w/ dramatically shallow DOF and strikingly off-kilter compositions. The poetic visuals create a disorienting sense of being at once immersed in the characters’ world and kept at a distance." - K. Jones, Film Comment. A striking soundtrack and vibrant color palate round off this slow burning but haunting work.
Sure, there's some bravado in the style, the kind that would annoy me (lots of shots with a character to the far right or left of the frame! ) in many other circumstances. But here the photography, editing, costumes, and performances are all working together in such intricate ways that I found myself clapping during some sequences. It's also a brutal melodrama that thinks through tradition in sincere, complex ways.
Bradford Young is a cinematographer worthy of recognition, acclaim, and thoughtful analysis. I heard his aesthetic be referred to as an "aesthetic of dignity" and I believe that to be a completely accurate term.
Probably some of the most striking cinematography I've seen in a long time, but the rich aesthetic doesn't always work: it often drowns the most emotional scenes in reflections and stylish nonsense. Sometimes I just wanted to turn on some damn lights and slap the DP! Most of the characters deserved more complexity, but I generally felt like there wasn't enough content for a 100-minute film.