21 October 2019 | nairtejas
MAMI MFF Review: You Will Die at 20 (6 Stars)
Death influences life in You Will Die at 20, only the eighth film in the history of Sudanese cinema. As mind-boggling as that trivia sounds, the social drama highlights the existence of superstition and blind faith in the roots of civilization in the African country of Sudan where a child born just a few days ago is thought to be cursed by a messenger of God and who prophecies that he will die the day he turns 20. The mother of the child, with her striking droopy eyes and without support from her timid husband, takes on the job of caring for her son and counting the days up to his death which she is hugely concerned about and also still very sure about. The coming-of-age container of the film then takes you through the struggle of this young boy who is outcast as the superstition lets people germinate the idea of his death into the idea of a cursed birth. The boy lives as if death is waiting for him, even wondering if his death will be by drowning and if the time he spent in his mother's womb will be counted. It's so powerful in its delivery that you gape at certain sequences, whether it is when her mother goes and scribbles on a wall at the end of a week that her son has lived a week more (because she does not have a calendar) or the time when his friends ask him to die sooner because he is going to die anyway or when the people around him think memorizing the holy book is better than learning mathematics. Bit slow in parts but always magnificent, You Will Die at 20 is a film that must be watched because Sudan has stories to tell and it needs people to hear and watch them. The main score by Amin Bouhafa is heartbreaking. TN.
(Watched and reviewed at its India premiere at the 21st MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)