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‘Mambar Pierrette’ Review: Cosmic Misfortunes

‘Mambar Pierrette’ Review: Cosmic Misfortunes


Pierrette, a gifted seamstress and a mom of three, can’t appear to catch a break. After a tough day’s work at her humble store in Douala, a busy metropolis in Cameroon, she’s mugged by a bike taxi driver. It’s additionally the wet season and her residence — and later her store — is flooded in a single day. It’s a foul time to be broke: The youngsters are heading again to high school and their provides aren’t low cost.

The occasions of “Mambar Pierrette” are fictional, however the movie’s nonprofesssional actors play variations of themselves. The drama is the primary narrative characteristic by Rosine Mbakam, a Cameroonian filmmaker primarily based in Belgium. Over the previous decade, Mbakam has distinguished herself as a formidable verité-style documentarian; her topics, Cameroonian ladies at residence and abroad.

Pierrette Aboheu Njeuthat, forged within the title function, is Mbakam’s cousin, and lots of the figures who orbit Pierrette’s life are the actress’s neighbors and family members.

A wealthy neighborhood portrait unfolds as Pierrette prepares her purchasers’ orders and flits round city placing out fires. We get a way of the patriarchal customs that dictate village life; the frictions between fashionable, enterprising ladies like Pierrette and tradition-bound ones like her mom. These and different realities are made obvious in a superbly natural method, via the type of intimate chatter that occurs between individuals who’ve recognized one another for many years.

Pierrette’s rotten luck isn’t any joke. We see, with startling readability, how a stolen pockets turns right into a missed cost, and an electrical energy shut-off means a stitching machine that may’t sew. Yet the movie’s mild naturalism (at occasions edging on the uncanny, courtesy of cheeky enhancing rhythms and an unsettling-looking model) offers her tribulations a cosmic undertone.

Mbakam hits a outstanding steadiness. The sociopolitical truths that make up Pierrette’s dropping streak are evident, with out the depressing patronizing so widespread in movies about battle in Africa. Also palpable is a extra common intestine feeling: the half-serious suspicion that one has been cursed.

Mambar Pierrette
Not rated. In French, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. In theaters.

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