REVIEW: Timbuktu

17 02 2015

TimbuktuAbderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu” shows the consequences of radical Jihadist rule in a small north African village to gripping effect.  No one goes untouched by their moralistic scourge as the fundamentalists clamp down on basic liberties and freedoms.  The violent authorities tolerate no view or action milder than their deeply entrenched extremist stances, and anyone who crosses them must pay at the hands of a barbaric punishment they mete out.

Sissako’s canvas is vast and wide to show how pernicious and pervasive the power of the group truly becomes.  Yet, at the same time, he also layers in various personal strands that allow “Timbuktu” to hit home on a gut level.  The film only runs 100 minutes, an economy which is usually a virtue.  Here, however, the length works against it as the timeframe only permits real intimacy with one family of cow farmers on the outskirts of the town.

Everyone else seems real enough, but they lack the screen time to really forge a meaningful connection with the audience.  The poignancy and the tragedy of “Timbuktu” would easily earn another 30 or 40 minutes.  Sissako’s unflinching look at dignity lost in the face of an inhumane regime confidently commands attention and respect.  It gets that – and then some.  B2halfstars

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