Screaming Man, A (2010)

Winner of the Cannes Jury Prize, this Chadian film packs plenty of unsaid emotions of jealousy, guilt and remorse into a nuanced father-and-son story as armed separatists threaten the peace of their country in the background.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,392

Dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
2010 | Chad | Drama | 88 mins | 2.35:1 | French & Arabic
PG (passed clean)

Cast: Youssouf Djaoro, Diouc Koma, Hadje Fatime N’Goua
Plot: Adam Ousmane is a pool attendant at a local resort. When the new managers decide to downsize, Adam loses his job to his own son, Abdel. Shattered by the turn of events, Adam is pressured into contributing to the Chadian war effort.
Awards: Won Jury Prize (Cannes)
International Sales: Pyramide International

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Father & Son; Guilt; Jealously; Chadian Civil War
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

My first ever film from Chad, directed by the country’s most well-known cinema figure—Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.  His third narrative feature after Our Father (2002) and Dry Season (2006), A Screaming Man won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, which raised the profile of the Chadian filmmaker even further. 

Here he tackles a story that may be described as modest yet it packs plenty of unsaid emotions of jealousy, guilt and remorse, particularly in the character of Adam (played by one of Haroun’s regulars, Youssouf Djaoro). 

Adam and his son, Abdel, share the same job as pool attendants at a nearby resort.  One of them would lose his job, sparking a series of unintended consequences. 

“Our problem is that we put our destiny in God’s hands.”

In the background, armed separatists threaten the peace of their country.  Everyone also has to contribute something to the war effort, a pressure point for Adam that leads him to make the biggest mistake of his life.  Haroun’s direction is unobtrusive, giving this father-and-son story the nuance that it deserves. 

It is a largely quiet film, save for the occasional military chopper flying past, reminding us and the characters that death and destruction are just right around the corner. 

Pride is often regarded as the beginning of sin, and in A Screaming Man, it is the start of a painful process of discovering that family is the most important gift of all. 

While it might not be an especially good film, it is an empathetic one, as Haroun asks us to think wisely: there are some things that money cannot buy.   

Grade: B+


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