When the last shot of Atlantics (Atlantique in French) started fading out, I just thought in my head ”huh, that was a cool film”. A night well slept later, that is still the main thing on my mind because cool and fresh are the most pertinent words for describing it. It’s about a Senegalese woman named Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) who is about to get married with the wealthy Omar (Babacar Sylla) but finds herself struggling because she’s in love with another man, Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré). Eventually there’s a criminal investigation done by detective Issa (Amadou Mbow) in which all of them are involved. Why the movie is cool is because how it transports you to the life of Ada, it’s done with immaculate style and composure.
One thing that perhaps should be pointed out is that sometimes a distinction between a romantic drama and romance drama could be useful. Atlantics falls more to the latter as it all revolves around the love between Ada and Souleiman, romantic dramas tend to have more B and C-stories happening. One reason it took a bit longer for me to get around the film is that it’s not really my preferred genre but to see the way I enjoyed it should speak to the level of execution here. Since the cast is full of first-timers with no previous acting experience, it’s laudable that the technical filmmaking is on the same level. First feature directing from Mati Diop, handheld camera work, minimal lighting and small spaces actually support the natural performances of the actors.
Maybe it could be because I don’t go out of my way to seek romantic or romance films to watch but even if that was the case, I’d likely say that Atlantics is something original and full of heart. The story involves also other kinds of commentary than just something about love, societal issues like poverty, class structure and refugees are just some of the things weaved in, very eloquently as well. It’s last original twist is obviously a filmmaking choice but it would be a spoiler so I’m not going to explain it. I’d also suggest you not to read about the film beforehand because it was the moment where I was really pulled in and a hint to it is in the first few words on the Wikipedia page. What I cared less about the movie was the obnoxious amount of insert/transitional shots (streets, ocean, buildings) and the half-thought ”detective work”, those could’ve used more effort or editing.
Smileys: Originality, colouring, story
Frowneys: Some issues with structure and editing
The Netflix Romantic Universe – featuring all Noah Centineo Universe films, The Kissing Booth series and Atlantics. Perfection.