Chad's Civil and Generational War, as Seen From Poolside, in A Screaming Man
At 50, Chadian writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is old enough to have seen his homeland sink into carnage more than once. A Screaming Man is Harouns war filmbut, a man of minimalist proclivities, he speaks of national tragedy through the story of a swimming pool. Father Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) and son Abdel (Diouc Koma) are a team of pool attendants at a NDjamena resort hotel. A former swimming medalist whom everyone still calls champion, Adam is an employee of 30 years standing, but corporate restructuring moves him to an undignified new post (shades of Murnaus The Last Laugh), leaving 20-year-old Abdel alone in the water. Adam recovers his job only when Abdel is forcibly inducted into the army, an event that his father is ambiguously complicit in. Theres no gunplay here; war is an ever-nearer off-screen horror, its first stirring coming through Adams transistor radio, then a passing helicopter. A Screaming Mans story of economically enforced generational rivalry reflects the divisionor, rather, lack of divisionof the burden of war between fathers and sons. The characterizations never comfortably accommodate Harouns pat metaphor, though his stoic visual storytelling has an oblique gravity, suggesting a slightly altered meaning to each surveying shot of the poolside patio.
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