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April 16, 2009

Sex, Okra and Salted Butter, 2008

sex_okra.gifSimilar to Pierre Yameogo's Me and My White Pal, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's crisp, lighthearted satire Sex, Gumbo and Salted Butter reflects on the challenges posed by dislocation, estrangement, and cultural assimilation. For old-fashioned family patriarch and Malian expatriate, Malik (Marius Yelolo), the belated culture shock of immigrating to Bordeaux comes when his attractive, much younger wife, Hortense (Mata Gabin) decides to run away with one of her patients - an oyster farmer (a not so subtle reference to her sexual awakening after a passionless marriage) named Jean-Paul (Manuel Blanc) and, in the process of enlisting his eldest son, Dani's (Dioucounda Koma) help to help find her, discovers that Dani has not been harboring his mother in his apartment, but rather, a gay lover. Meanwhile, having neglected his younger sons in pursuit of his wayward wife - in a hopeless display of romanticism that included surprising her at work and serenading her with a kora from her hospital window (followed by a swift ejection from the grounds by security) - the boys have begun to search for their own surrogate caretaker, first, in the genial, if repressed, widowed neighbor, Madame Myriam (Lorella Cravotta), and subsequently, in Dani's troubled friend, Amina (Aïssa Maïga). Resigned to a life of dodging questions from his ever-disapproving, busybody elders, and tolerable, if unconventional living arrangement with Amina, Malik finds a glimmer of hope for reconciliation with the arrival of Hortense's aunt, Tatie Afoué (Marie-Philomène Nga) from Africa, only to find that the headstrong Afoué has her own ideas about tradition. As in Yameogo's film, the comedy of errors in Sex, Gumbo and Salted Butter stems from misperceptions of identity - gender, familial, and racial roles that, rather than upholding culture, ends up distorting it in its rigidity and exclusion.

Posted by acquarello on Apr 16, 2009 | | Filed under 2009, New York African Film Festival

Comments

Are u aware that Manuel Blanc did one man show based on Pouchkine Journal Secret 1836-1837 in Paris in 2006?
See details here.

The poster is here.

Posted by: sok on Apr 16, 2009 6:21 PM | Permalink

Hmm...I wonder if that factored into his casting.

Posted by: acquarello [TypeKey Profile Page] on Apr 16, 2009 6:58 PM | Permalink

I hope it did, because his performance in Journal Secret was outstanding. You can see excerpts on youtube.

Posted by: sok on Apr 19, 2009 2:19 PM | Permalink

I love the film's title :) In the past, I have seen some very good French dramatic films which tackled the hardships associated with settling to a new life in France away from Africa or the Arab world. So a light hearted film would be a nice change.

Posted by: sachin on Apr 20, 2009 12:27 PM | Permalink

Hey, Sachin, isn't it great? The 'gumbo' instead of 'okra' in French is a nice nuance too with the cobbling together of cultures. And you're right, it's a nice change of pace from the banlieue films.

By the way, did you notice that the general public series passes for the Satyajit Ray retrospective is already sold out? That's such encouraging news. Too bad about the muck up on Teen Kanya though. I was also surprised to see that Distant Thunder and The Home and the World weren't in the program.

Posted by: acquarello [TypeKey Profile Page] on Apr 20, 2009 7:14 PM | Permalink


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