Ezra

"Good"

Ezra Review


Though the horrors of the diamond trade and government indiscretions in Sierra Leone are by no means news, Newton I. Aduaka's Ezra finds a grassroots way of exploring this mess of a situation, even if his means impede on his end result's delivery. Aduaka's film borders on being something immensely powerful, and then, as if shy or ashamed of its promise, flips its wig and falls back on convention.

It's 1992 in Sierra Leone, only months after a military coup instated the National Provisional Ruling Council, a group of renegade military officers, as the ruling body. At a small school in Leone, a boy named Ezra, along with a dozen other children, watch as a group of guerillas kill one of their teachers while kidnapping them. The weaker children are shot while the rest become soldiers in the People's Revolutionary Front, a radical militia group looking for freedom from the injustices of the NPRC.

Seven years later, Ezra (Mamoudu Turay) has been appointed as a leader in the PRF and conducts a raid on a small village. Houses are burned, women and children murdered, and, in one hut, Ezra's parents are killed, unknowingly, under the command of Ezra. In the hills beyond the village, while Ezra burns his one-time home to the ground, his sister Onitcha (Mariame N'Diaye) has her tongue cut off by one of Ezra soldiers. It is that incident that brings about the investigative trial, the spine on which Ezra's flashbacks build on to create a full portrait not only of Ezra, but of guerilla life in the West African nation.

Aduaka's direction has a rough-and-tumble nature to it that gives one the sense that the footage was culled from news segments and propaganda videos. The rough-hewned aesthetic sells a film that is otherwise spotty and leans a bit hard on a group of mostly inexperienced actors, with the exception of Richard Gant, who plays the head of the counsel leading the investigation into Ezra's actions. When Aduaka pushes hard on the schematics and sloganeering of African politics, the film quakes and feels inauthentic, bordering on trite. In its precious few natural moments (a pre-raid dance, trips through the jungle, the initial boot camp for child soldiers), the lines become blurred and the film flirts with Dardenne-like singular action.

The only fully-realized part of the drama comes from Ezra's relationship with his wife Mariam (the lucid Mamusu Kallon), a fellow rebel known as Black Diamond. Anchored to these moments, Aduaka finds something believable and natural: Rebels breeding to create more rebels. When you see these teenagers heading out of the ghetto, a feeling of dread washes over the screen; this is a hopeless situation, regardless of what bus you get on.

Though it is only mentioned once, as a rebel accuses the head of the PRF of pilfering, the diamond trade and the heinous state of Africa's guerilla mindset are evoked with subtlety in this modest production. Inside his faulty arches, Aduaka alludes to something grand and haunting, but his filmmaking is neither daring nor confident enough to build solely on the images of these lost souls. Along with his camera, Aduaka gives them a stage.



Ezra

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 13th February 2008

Distributed by: Film Forum

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Newton I. Aduaka

Producer: Gorune Aprikian, Michel Loro

Starring: Mamoudu Turay Kamara as Ezra, Mariame N'Diaye as Onitcha, Mamusu Kallon as Mariam, Merveille Lukeba as Moses, Richard Gant as Mac Mondale

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.