Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turning Point Pictures' Sinking Sands - a movie review

After watching 'I Sing Of A Well' (ISOAW), loving it and writing a review, I eagerly anticipated the next movie from Leila Djansi's stable. I also interviewed her about ISOAW and when Sinking Sands was being made ready for its Ghana premiere, I was offered the chance to preview Leila's 'Sinking Sands'. I had been really excited about this movie with the casting of Haiti's Jimmy Jean-Louis and Ama Abrebrese. After watching Sinking Sands, I had one word. Unique. It was unlike any Ghanaian movie I had ever seen. And that's the major reason why you should see it.

The movie centers around domestic abuse but this only comes about because some changes come in the relationship between Gyimah (Jimmy's character) and Pabi (Ama's character). I think Jimmy does well in his African movie debut. Well, unless you want to count Phat Girlz (which featured Moqniue Parker) as the debut. It wasn't too difficult for him to fit in as his Haitian accent is not a marked departure from a Ghanaian one. On the other hand, Ama has been in the UK a long while, being the face of OBE TV and I found myself being more critical of her accent. She was very 'Ghanaian' with how she intertwined her English with Twi and Ghanaian words like 'wae', etc. I think Leila did a great job with using the dialogue to make the movie as Ghanaian as possible. Both Jimmy and Ama shined in their roles and their on screen chemistry was not forced.

The shortcomings of the movie can be found in the subject matter. Domestic abuse is a tough and interesting subject for the average Ghanaian movie goer. Sinking Sands is what you'd call a 'serious movie'. It's the kind of movie that wins Oscars but doesn't do well at the box office. I think Sinking Sands will become a hit off the shelves but not ncessarily on the big screen. The movie has its funny lines and superb dialogue but once the movie takes the turn and becomes 'serious', we see a dearth of those.

ISOAW was a movie set before the colonial times, Sinking Sands is set in the present day. Leila and her crew ensured the realities of the script and the movie coming to life. It's important for movies to showcase different things to make viewers realise how the movie signifies the people it portrays. Some scenes may not be relevant in the grand scheme of the movie but they convey the culture and lifestyle of the characters involved. This is another feather in Sinking Sands' cap. As if the movie wasn't not Ghanaian enough, we see the Ghanaian flag flying at the local school, a lady using it as a headwrap, a guy wearing it, amongst other things. I guess you can't really incorporate a Ghanaian flag into a corn mill scene :-)

I love movies with great dialogue and Sinking Sands is one of them. I'd dissect the dialogue in another post. It's not forced, not like in other Ghanaian movies which seem to try hard to impress viewers with Big English. Yes, I am talking about those movies. The dialogue in Sinking Sands is a mixture of English and Twi and the viewers don't need subtitles to realise what is going on. The score and soundtrack is also great. If you think about a lot of the Ghanaian songs out there, it's tough to get appropriate tracks for the movie's subject matter so it falls on a lot of foreign tracks, even Spanish ones, to set the mood of the scenes. More about that in another post.

The movie has a good number of romantic scenes. They have come to stay, my people. Don't act surprised when you see them. Africans make love too. Ghanaians want to see these scenes, but the way these scenes are presented makes a wealth of difference. Sinking Sands does them well and they are relevant and timely when they appear.

The movie's storyline can be thought of as a rainy day. First the sun sets, right when the first signs of infidelity (trouble) appear. The tricky thing is you don't see the clouds forming. What comes to your mind when you think of clouds? It's going to rain. And when it rains, it pours. Clouds are premonitions of trouble to come. And then the rains fall. In Sinking Sands, they fall hard and you know sandy soil doesn't hold up rain really well. When you consider the major relationship in the movie, there's a whole lot of sinking involved. The movie doesn't sink though, each scene gets better and better and it makes you wonder how it would end.

I am not one to rate the movie out of 10 or whatever. The fact that I am reviewing the movie and will blog about it a couple more times means that I am recommending it. Support great Ghanaian and African cinema. Especially those that generate discussions that we must have as a people. You can catch the movie showing somewhere in Ghana. Follow updates on its Facebook page. Follow on Twitter @sinkingsands. Turning Point Pictures.

Buy ISOAW today!
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