Friday 22 March 2024

Movie review by Godwin Ifedi, Editor

Movie title: Le voyage de Talia-Talia’s journey (French with English sub-titles)

Actors: Nadège Bibo-Tansia as Talia and Aminata Sarr as Malika

Languages: French, Dutch, Wolof, Fulani (st: English, French)

Le voyage de Talia -Talia’s journey is the opening movie of the 2024 Ottawa Black Film Festival featured at the Library and .Archives Canada. Talia is a 19 year old Belgian girl, with Senegalese roots, visiting her country of origin for the first time. She starts off in Dakar, in the luxurious villa of her cousin’s family, hoping to meet her grandmother. But her grandmother is nowhere to be found and the villa quickly becomes a “golden prison”. Until she meets Malika, a mysterious bird street seller.

The opening sequence shows Talia exploring and enjoying familiar spaces in Belgium, in the company of her long-time white boy-friend. Then cuts to Talia’s arrival in Dakar, Senegal, where she stays in the luxurious environs of the sumptuously expensive mansion owned by her absentee uncle. It didn’t take long for Talia to discover the contrast between Belgium and the real Senegal, with goats, sheep and cattle wandering alongside people in the streets and in their homes, a culture shock of the worst kind.

Viewers were treated to Africa’s own version of vigilante justice. when the thief who had stolen Talia’s phone, was severely beaten up by other passengers on the bus she had been riding on, joined by a mob that had joined the fray, by way of teaching the thief a lesson. Enter Malika, a strong Black African woman by any definition, who rescued the situation and became Talia’s friend, guide and mentor. For the rest of the movie, Malika demonstrated that, despite much of Africa being male-dominated, strong Black African women had a place in the continent’s landscape.

Among the most poignant scenes form this movie, was one where a young man Talia had just met, dared her to prove her African-ness by eating a hot chili pepper, a must-have in any meal in much of West Africa. It would take several more scenes in the movie before Talia took on the challenge by successfully downing a chili pepper, although her facial expression indicated that it was not exactly a pleasant experience for her! Viewers reacted with amusement when Talia found herself stuck in the midst of three exquisitely dressed Senegalese women at a park bench, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, with her teenage pants, top and boy-like boots. More culture shock when Malika explains why she sells canaries, to customers to bring them good luck.

Much of the film shows Talia going from one village to another in search of her grandmother, using an old faded pic she had of her. All the while, her journey is juxtaposed with her feelings for her white boy friend, who she eventually decided, did not fit into her newly discovered African identity.

Although the film’s narrative was quite entertaining, it was sometimes difficult for the viewer to connect one incident to the next. For instance, one sees Talia fast asleep in her bed, and the next scene shows her being revived by passersby, after fainting at a bus stop. It took a while to figure out that she had fainted in the tropical heat on her way to search for her grandmother.

The meeting with her grandmother at a remote village was rather anti-climactic, as there was no explanation as to why the grandmother had “disappeared” in the first place.

Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable movie with Aminata Sarr as a standout in her role as Malika.

Click on this link to watch the trailer: Talia’s Journey – Official Trailer on Vimeo