In the suburbs of Dakar, men labor in the hot sun to erect a massive tower. Seen through the dust, it looks like something futuristic, something alien. Even more so considering the men who built it: Impoverished and overburden. They yell at the foreman. They threaten to strike.
Written by Mati Diop and Olivier Demangel, Atlantics (Atlantique) is not a movie about class and labor. At least not entirely. The story picks up with Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) and Souleiman (Traore). They love one another, but Ada is betrothed to Omar and must marry him within the week. It’s a classic love-triangle set up.
But Atlantics is no romance. At least not entirely. Souleiman and his friends hop on a boat to make some money but are lost at sea. Or, the town thinks so, until Souleiman is suddenly seen around town.
Atlantics is an unusual movie, one that fluidly moves from genre to genre, constantly setting up expectations and then undercutting them. It’s a quiet story, one that moves with confidence even if the viewer is on uneven ground. The cinematography from Claire Mathon is sumptuous, and the music from Fatima Al Qadiri is hypnotic. Watch it on a cold winter day, and you’ll feel hot and sticky.
Atlantics will be available to stream on Netflix staring Nov. 29.