Waiting for Happiness

"Very Good"

Waiting for Happiness Review


Waiting for Happiness feels like festival bait, the kind of lyrical ethnographic exercise that makes the people who watch it feel important. It's an interesting journey to a faraway place -- can you find Mauritania on the map? -- but as a movie it turns out to be more boring that meditative. Watch with coffee.

Not much happens in the crumbling seaside village that the film visits. Abdallah (Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed) a 17-year-old who has been away for many years, returns to visit his mother before he heads off to Europe to seek his fortune. Unable to remember the local dialect, he can't communicate with the townspeople or even with his mother, so mainly he lies in bed and reads or wanders around with a shell-shocked look on his face. He can't even stand to wear the local robes, choosing instead to remain in his well-worn Western clothes.

A more interesting character is young Khatra (Khatra Ould Abder Kader), an orphaned and energetic boy of nine or so who has latched onto the village's old and not very effective electrician Maata (Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid). They pass through town screwing in light bulbs, with Khatra urging Maata on and reassuring him that everything will be alright. It has to be because if Maata fades away, then so will Khatra.

And that about sums it up. The film's purpose is to analyze alienation and isolation, and a transient town on the West African coast is a good place to do it. You never know what, or who, will wash ashore. The town has a lone Chinese man who tries to win the heart of a local woman by serenading her in a karaoke bar. Where the heck did he come from, and what is he doing here? In a nearby house, a mother teaches her daughter ancient songs, and down the street a gaggle of women meet Adballah for tea and stare at him. Khatra tries to teach Abdallah the local language, but nothing sticks. Abdallah will leave soon. Maata may die soon. The Chinese man may go back to China. People come and go, and they're always alone in the end. Adballah eventually hikes over a dune with his suitcase in his hand. What happens to him in France might make for a more interesting movie.

Director/writer Abderrahmane Sissako has played with the theme of small people isolated in a big world before. It's sort of his obsession, and it's an interesting topic. In Waiting for Happiness, however, what little story there is simply stalls out, and you're left with the feeling that you've watched a so-so National Geographic special about immigration trends in Africa rather than an affecting film. It's pretty and it's exotic, but that's all it is.

Aka Heremakono.

Keep waiting.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 15th January 2003

Distributed by: New Yorker Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Producer: Nicholas Royer, Maji-da Abdi

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.