Bronx-Barbes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bronx-Barbes

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This gritty 2000 French drama, set in an Ivory Coast ghetto nicknamed the Bronx, plays like a West African Boyz N the Hood, with two friends who dream of a better life in America getting caught in a vortex of crime and gang warfare. Toussaint (Antony Koulehi Diate), the more adept and adaptable, quickly moves up the ranks of drug dealers and robbers, while Nixon (Loss Sylla Ousseni) fumbles along, often inviting danger. Many of the situations they face are familiar--gang rivalry, police corruption, a stark disparity between rich and poor--but writer-director Eliane de Latour, noted for her ethnographic documentaries, depicts them with unflinching honesty. She's equally observant of an urban subculture that's enamored with American icons and fantasies (gang members have monikers like Tupac, Clinton, and Tyson) yet still tied to tribal rituals and superstitions, and she finds moments of poetry and humor amid the violence and despair (particularly in Toussaint's courtship of a whore). In French and Nushi with subtitles. 110 min. A 35-millimeter print will be shown. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Friday and Monday, January 10 and 13, 8:00, 312-846-2800.

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