© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
An image from BAMAKO

© 2006 Photo Credit:Les Films du Losange
of African nations and takes the form of a trial
at which organizations like the World Bank and
defendants. Juxtaposed against this legal
proceeding are the mundane tasks that the
residents of the area of the Malian capital; a
couple breaks apart,women do their laundry as
well as dye cloth, a wedding party interrupts the
proceedings, and so on.

Filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako clearly has an
agenda and while it may be an honorable one, it
reeks of preaching to the converted. He allows
his mostly nonprofessional cast to expound on
the hardships they have faced and the lies they
have endured at the hands of colonial forces. He
also includes a few moments where the
complicity of the African nation itself is
questioned. It's heady stuff and certainly fits in
with the current world situation as well as the
cinematic trend to explore issues endemic to

I'm not entirely certain that the film will reach
the audience who should see it. Undoubtedly it
will appeal to those who already share the
director's viewpoints.

While worthy,
BAMAKO suffers somewhat from
its structure. Some of the testimony becomes so
complicated that unless you are an expert or
really truly versed on the subject, you just might
tune out (as I found myself doing on occasion).
The contrast of the villagers is a nice conceit,
but Sissako has not integrated the idea fully and
some of these asides feel tacked on or
inconsequential. The emotional attachment or
recognition required for the audience's empathy
is not there. Also, Sissako has made the unwise
decision to include a mock spaghetti western
starring Danny Glover that is seen briefly on a
television set. The sequence is meant to serve
as a microcosm of the events in the country, but
instead comes across as heavy-handed and
bordering on the ridiculous.

BAMAKO will appeal to a very select and
discerning audience. Admittedly, I'm not in that
subset, whatever that says about me.

Rating:                C -
MPAA Rating:       None
Running time:       115 mins.