A construction worker (Ibrahima Traoré) leaves Dakar on a boat for Spain in search of a better life, leaving his parter Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) back home.
In spite of my heinously pithy synopsis, Atlantics actually entirely follows Ada in her life in Senegal. It’s a tale of heartbreak but also, at least from my perspective here in the UK, a snapshot of human life in a country very different to mine.
It’s a slow burn of a love story, and Diop takes the time to weave many themes into the screenplay, touching on crime, wealth, tradition, the past and the future. It’s shot and constructed with a degree of warmth and passion that draws you into its world.
What catches you off guard is its swerve into the supernatural, but you soon realise the magical realism was there all along in plain sight. It’s a powerful visual, the dead channelling themselves and coming back to claim what they are owed through their loved ones. I’m not enitirely sure why every wife and girlfriend got possessed except Ada, whose partner came back to her through someone else entirely, but perhaps a smart person can tell me.
If you boil it down too much I’m not sure Atlantics is all that original in its concept, but the effectiveness of its execution really made me glad I got to see it.