Review: ‘The Heart’s Cry’

(French dialogue)

(French dialogue)

Leading Burkina Faso director Idrissa Ouedraogo transplants an African family to Paris in “The Heart’s Cry,” a well-made, dignified, French-funded production. Presence of Gallic star Richard Bohringer in a supporting role should boost local interest, though pic’s main audience will be viewers interested in African cinema, plus some younger auds. A good fest run is assured.

Moctar (Said Diarra), an 11-year-old boy living in Mali, leaves his village and sick grandfather to go to Paris with his mother Saffi (Felicite Wouassi) to join his father, Ibrahim Sow (Alex Descas). After years of hard work as an emigrant laborer, Ibrahim now owns his own garage. He has prepared a nice home for his family, and aspires for his son to become a doctor.

Moctar seems to be adapting well to his new environment, until one day he begins seeing (or hallucinating?) a scary hyena trotting down the street. His schoolmates laugh at him and the school psychiatrist alarms his parents about the boy’s mental health. Everybody tries to persuade him he’s imagining things. Only Paulo (Bohringer), an outsider who befriends him, is willing to take him seriously and help him overcome his fears.

Film’s interest lies in the way Ouedraogo (director of the prize-winning “Yaaba,””Tilai” and “Samba Traore”) sidesteps the usual African-immigrant plot issues of racism and marginalization to concentrate on the psychological adjustment problems of a child.

As Moctar, newcomer Diarra is a serious, plucky hero who courageously engages the hyena in a fiery showdown in pic’s climactic scene.

The Heart's Cry



A Les Films de la Plaine/Les Films de l'Avenir/Centre Europeen Cinematographique Rhone-Alpes production. Executive producer, Sophie Salbot. Directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo. Screenplay, Ouedraogo, Robert Gardner, Jacques Akchoti.


Camera (color), Jean Monsigny; editor, Luc Barnier; music, Henri Texier; art direction, Olivier Paultre; sound, Dominique Levert, Dominique Hennequin. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 8, 1994. Running time: 86 MIN.


With: Richard Bohringer, Said Diarra, Felicite Wouassi, Alex Descas, Clementine Celarie, Jean-Yves Gautier.
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