Thursday, December 10, 2020

African immigrants in Brooklyn

By nature, stories about immigrants are tales of adjustment. In Farewell Amor, immigrants must not only adapt to a new country but to one another. Having fled Angola, Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) has been in the US for 17 years. After almost two decades, Walter has succeeded in bringing his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) and his teenage daughter (Jayme Lawson) to the US. By the time, mother and daughter arrive,  Walter's adjustment to a new life has radically altered his ability to accept some of the ways he left behind. During his 17 years in the US, Walter earned his living driving a taxi. He also developed a relationship with Linda (Nana Mensah), a nurse. His  daughter, an infant when he left Africa, is a virtual stranger to him. His wife's religious devotion no longer makes sense to him. Director Ekwa Msangi divides the story into three acts, each focused on the perspective of one of the principal characters. Msangi enriches the film with nicely observed scenes illuminating Brooklyn's immigrant Africa culture and Joie Lee registers as a neighbor who advises Esther about how to navigate this somewhat free-form world. Dancing plays a role in the movie. Both father and daughter see dance as an important means of self-expression. By the time the movie concludes, we have a sense that we've lived with these characters. Happily, Msangi isn't out to vilify anyone. He knows these characters and he wants us to know them, as well.

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