Review: ‘Timbuktu’

Alan Gilsenan's road movie "Timbuktu" traverses a Morocco that Hope and Crosby couldn't have conjured up in their worst nightmares. Pic proposes mystical salvation through degradation and death: A woman and a gay hustler, her childhood pal, trek across the Sahara in search of her brother, a monk kidnapped by Algerian rebels.

Opening with a quote from Job, Alan Gilsenan’s road movie “Timbuktu” traverses a Morocco that Hope and Crosby couldn’t have conjured up in their worst nightmares. An Irish foray into an African heart of darkness, pic proposes mystical salvation through degradation and death: A woman and a gay hustler, her childhood pal, trek across the Sahara in search of her brother, a monk kidnapped by Algerian rebels. Alternately gaining and losing focus, pic often slips its narrative moorings only to regroup and plunge back into more-or-less linear storytelling. Exhausting if haunting pilgrimage never quite transcends the aridness of its premise, indicating meager prospects commercially.

Stonewalled in her would-be rescue mission by authorities, the woman (Eva Birthistle) and her companion (Karl Geary) hook up with a suavely sinister guide (George Jackos) — an up-close-and-personal embodiment of sexual greed and gratuitous violence. In contrast, the heroine’s brother’s fate plays out in vague, unfocused long-shots where the black masks of the rebels and the black hoods of the about-to-be-executed monks appear indistinguishable from one another. Pic’s existential mystique, comprising a pan-sexual love story and a fairy-tale death wish, never really stays the course.

Timbuktu

Ireland

Production

An MR Films, Irish Film Board presentation of a Yellow Asylum Films, Fantastic Films, MR Films production. (International sales: MR Films, Dublin.) Produced by Martin Mahon, John McDonnell, Emma Scott. Directed by Alan Gilsenan. Screenplay, Paul Freaney, from his novel.

Crew

Camera (color), P.J. Dillon; editor, Emer Reynolds. Reviewed at MOMA Premieres Series, New York, Jan. 9, 2005. English, French, Arabic dialogue. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Eva Birthistle, Karl Geary, George Jackos, Liam O'Maonlai.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading