Saloum ★★★★

Believe the hype. This is a sinewy living creature of a movie; I could compare it to half a dozen other genre flicks, and director/writer Jean Luc Herbulot knows his influences, but really it’s not any of those other movies. The way he weaves in childhood trauma and themes of exploitation of all kinds is magnificent.

The acting, too. Yann Gael isn’t a newcomer, just new to most of us, and he’s great. Roger Sallah and Mentor Ba are great. It’d have been so easy to let the three mercenaries be cliches, but the way Herbulot shows us the depths of the connection between them is much better.

Great soundtrack. So many beautiful shots of Saloum itself. Maybe a little less coherent cinematography than I wanted? But now I’m picking nits.