L'Afrance | Chicago Reader

L'Afrance

Alain Gomis' first fiction feature (2001) offers an incisive portrait of a dislocated Senegalese man living in Paris (Djolof Mbengue). Tired of being stereotyped as having rhythm, the emigre wants to make a contribution to his native land as a history teacher; instead he's thrown in jail and threatened with early deportation for letting his visa expire. His fiancee in Africa plans to accept another proposal if he doesn't commit soon, though he has a French girlfriend who offers to marry him so he can stay; he flirts with crime, though when he shows up for honest work at a construction site, other blacks tell him they're insulted by his presence because he has a choice and they don't. The tight close-ups on Mbengue emphasize his appropriately inward-looking performance, suggesting that he does have choices, even if none of them is perfect—his Senegalese friends predict that if he returns to Africa he'll feel even more alienated than he does in Paris. In French with subtitles. 90 min.

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