Yao

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Yao
"There are times when Godeau seems to lose the way and the pace at such moments lacks drive, but then he’s back on track before long."

With the towering presence of Omar Sy (remember the irascible carer in Intouchables?) Philippe Godeau’s sunny and feel good adventure yarn has a lot going for it in terms of charm, father and son relationships, family roots and breathtaking scenery.

Sy may be the mainstay of the narrative but quickly his young cohort (newcomer Lionel Basse) exerts his own sway as the 13-year-old who will do anything to meet his hero - a famous French actor who comes to Dakar in Senegal to promote his new book.

Copy picture

This is the first time that Sy’s character Seydou Tall has returned to his country of origin and he strikes up a friendship with the committed youngster who has travelled more than 387 kilometres to encounter his hero. Tall decides to see him back safely to his home village, which gives Godeau the opportunity to explore the powerful pull of roots and relationships within the framework of a road movie.

En route they experience some picaresque adventures, involving a panoply of colourful characters – among them an exotic singer Gloria (Fatoumata Diawara) with whom he has a spirited interlude and a far-seeing mystical old woman (Germaine Acogny) with powers of insight into Tall’s own background and Westernised culture.

As Cy’s character prepares to return to Paris and his estranged wife and son he realises he has changed (probably for the better) as well as acquiring new values and a better understanding of where he has come from and the country of his ancestors.

There are times when Godeau seems to lose the way and the pace at such moments lacks drive, but then he’s back on track before long. It could have been tighter managed, but Cy’s magnetism and the chemistry between him and Basse hold the attention while the cinematography allows the viewer to wallow in the stunning and unfamiliar locales.

Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2019
Share this with others on...
Yao packshot
A teenager in a Senegalese village will do anything to meet his hero.

Festivals:

French 2019

Search database: