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Banel & Adama movie review & film summary (2024)

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Banel & Adama movie review & film summary (2024)

And, of course, it’s hard for love to thrive in such an environment, not just because of the physical demands but because of customs and traditions. Banel (Khady Mane) is a young woman fiercely in love with Adama (Mamadou Diallo), a fellow whose personality is rather more tentative than you’d expect from a guy in line to be a tribal leader.

Banel is a woman of substantial determination. In shots that skirt the edges of rationality, we see and hear her taming the “angry and agitated” voices that dog her in daily life. Her village doesn’t please her; she and Adama dream of a new home, not far away in an urban area, as is common in many movie narratives in rural settings, but in houses that they are digging up from a nearby village that had been wiped out in a sandstorm. On a sheet of paper, she writes her and Adama’s names over and over. During religious instructions, she discusses learning the Quran by heart. She becomes an ace with a slingshot, killing a bird with it. Despite Adama’s potential role as a tribal leader, one character insists, “Here, no man stands out from the others.”

With a steady editing rhythm, Sy chronicles this complicated love and the sufferings of the village at large. It’s not a movie with any sharp dramatic turns. As the famine intensifies, there are harrowing images of dead cattle practically bleached by the sun. Throughout all this, Banel maintains her own arguably selfish focus, near the end practically accusing Adama: “You promised to dig to the very last grain of sand.” This evocative movie’s final images, again demonstrating that nature tells our stories for us at times, demonstrate that even promises kept can be ultimately ineffectual. 

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