DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Abouna
Abouna
Home Vision Entertainment // Unrated // May 17, 2005
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by DVD Savant | posted May 30, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

One expects ethnological insights in regional films from Third-World directors, but in the remarkable feature Abouna we're treated to the work of a director with an excellent eye for behavior, personal relationships and visual beauty. In a dry region of Africa, two boys from a broken family try to make sense of their frustrating environment. Without a single word of exposition, we're invited to share the personal lives of these civilized little men as they bravely face their problems and make the best of things.

Synopsis:

Chad. Young Tahir and Amine (Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa and Hamza Moctar Aguid) wake to find their father gone and their mother Achta (Zara Haroun) unwilling to talk about him. The boys court trouble by skipping school and looking for their father. Thinking they've seen him in a movie, they break into the theater to steal the film to find him again. Mother takes them to a distant Muslim school that only reinforces their will to escape and search for their father, who an uncle says is in Morocco.

In a nicely shot interview extra, director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun explains that Abouna is his second feature (the first was Bye Bye Africa) but the first shot on film. The director's deceptively simple approach presents the world as experienced by these two boys, who act so naturally we seem to be watching transparent behaviors instead of directed performances.

Tahir is several years older and although the two scrap like puppies, their devotion is complete. When we first meet them an apparently harmonious family situation has disintegrated; father won't be there to referee their soccer matches any more. Mother sews in silence and disappears on her scooter to work, and the unsupervised boys think that father will turn up if they just look for him.

Mother tends to the sickly Amine and intercedes when they have trouble with the police, but it's not long before the boys are relocated in a strange town under the watchful eye of a religious teacher. Both are beaten for perceived insolence and an escape attempt that ends because Anime gets a thorn in his foot. Tahir meets a girl who takes a fancy to him (Mounira Kahlil); that and a solemn vow given over the Koran helps him decide not to run off after all. But when the other boys steal Amine's asthma medicine, the honey remedy given by the teacher's gentle wife doesn't help him to breathe ...

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun demonstrates a sure hand with his nonprofessional actors and explains that before filming he had them live together for two weeks to develop a credible rapport. They aren't poor boys - their clothing is simple but dignified - and they seem to have a natural relationship with the landscape. We grow to like them without noticing any emotional strings being tugged. The only aspect that seems imposed from without is the director's interest in film, as the little theater in the boy's town is showing Stranger than Paradise and Chaplin's The Kid, as if Chad had its own mini-version of the Cinematheque Francais. At one point Amine tries to steal a film still, as in Truffaut's Day for Night.

Director Haroun is based in Paris but his film crew appears to be genuinely African. Although the pace is deliberate our attention is held by creative camerawork that need make no apologies. The colors of the earthen buildings are warm and inviting and sophisticated camera technique composes in depth and balances the light through windows and archways - there are never any burned-out areas of the frame. Haroun's images have a refreshing visual clarity that sidesteps merely pretty, travelogue effects. Chad looks crisp, dry and clean.


Home Vision Entertainment's DVD of Abouna is beautifully transferred from perfect prime elements. The enhanced image is rich and colorful; cameraman Abraham Haile Biru must be a student of Winton Hoch in his use of wide exteriors and dark interiors cut by pools of light. The modern African rhythm score is tastefully used. The language on the soundtrack is Chad Arabic mixed with French.

Other extras besides Haroun's impressive interview are a trailer and two of his earlier short films, Goï Goï and B 400. Phil Hall of Wired Magazine contributes thoughtful and expressive liner notes.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Abouna rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent Arabic and French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Supplements: with director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; Film shorts Goï Goï & B 400; trailer
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: May 17, 2005


Republished by permission of Turner Classic Movies.


[Savant Main Page][Savant Links] [Article Index] [Review Index] [Savant 5 Year Report]

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2005 Glenn Erickson

Go BACK to the Savant Main Page.
Other Reviews:
Popular Reviews
1. Godzilla 2000
2. Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotica Cinema
3. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla / Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
4. They Came Together
5. Graceland: Season 1
6. Wilfred Season 3
7. Last Man Standing Season 1
8. All That Jazz
9. Rebirth of Mothra / Rebirth of Mothra II / Rebirth of Mothra III
10. Legend of Hell House


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use