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

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.