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Waiting for Happiness
Time Out says
A town, flanked on one side by the Mauritanian desert, on the other by the Atlantic. Some, like young Abdallah, who's already spent so long away he can't speak his family's language, are passing through en route to Europe. Others, like the Chinese street vendor, just seem to have washed up here. Then there are the townsfolk - Maata, for instance, the electrician Abdallah's mother hires to fix some lighting for the teenager to read his books, and his assistant Khatra, a chirpy kid who himself may well want to move on one day. This lovely first feature from one of African cinema's brightest rising stars offers a wondrously subtle account of themes - communication breakdown, the importance of tradition, the perils of exile - which in most other hands might have ended up as aheavy-handed sermon. Sissako wisely prefers to make points through visual and aural poetry, narrative ellipsis and a good deal of deadpan humour. On the whole, dialogue is less revealing than faces, space, pace, light, colour and music, much of it superb. At the same time, no especially deep knowledge of African culture or mythology is necessary, like it was for, say, Yeelen. The looming ships, the flirtations over tea, the girl learning a song from her mentor speak volumes, as, sadly, does a body found at the meeting place of sky, sea and sand.