Fishing Without Nets

Fishing Without Nets ★★★½

Yes, yes, it’s another movie about Somali pirates, the third one I’ve seen in around nine months. And yet there’s still something fresh in director Cutter Hodierne’s adaptation, even if it slips into some obvious ironies. The focus here is on Abdi (Abdikani Muktar), a young Somali fisherman with a wife and a young son who hesitantly takes up a friend’s offer to join a band of pirates capture a French oil tanker. The story wrestles with a handful of sub-plots—including Abi sending his wife and son out of the country with smugglers, and Abdi’s attempts to be the “good cop” with one of the French hostages (Reda Kateb)—to the point where it often feels that Hodierne, in attempting to expand his award-winning short to feature length, has bitten off more khat than he can chew. But there’s still great material here about the pirates’ operation as a business endeavor, and the nasty clashes that emerge between those who are able to see things strictly as a transaction to be negotiated, and those whose anger at their life of deprivation boils over in the direction of the hostages (and one another). A few terrifically crafted set pieces by Hodierne build the sense that this is a world in which, whatever words are mouthed about it being “just business,” there’s no way to avoid getting dirty.