Atlantics follows Ada, a 17-year-old girl living in the suburbs of the Senegalese capital of Dakar. Though she’s set to marry a rich young man named Omar, Ada is in love with Souleiman, a poor construction worker.

Production: Les Films du Bal Frakas Productions, Cinekap, Ad Vitam, Netflix

Direction: Mati Diop

Starring: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré

Release Date: 2 August 2019

Genre: Romance

Run time: 1h 46min

Rating: 3/5


In the opening scenes, Souleiman and his fellow laborers, who haven’t been paid for the months they’ve spent building a futuristic tower, decide to set sail for Europe in search of other work. But Souleiman never abandons Ada.

They demand their unpaid wages and then ride home empty-handed in the open bed of a pickup truck. One of them, Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), meets his girlfriend, Ada (Mama Sané), in an abandoned building near the beach. They kiss, they argue and she goes off with her friends, not all of whom get along with one another.

Elements of romance, comedy and kitchen-sink realist drama combine and refract against the backdrop of Dakar — its poor and wealthy neighborhoods, its commerce and its traffic. The Atlantic Ocean is never offscreen for very long, its presence both threatening and comforting, a symbol of freedom and death.

Though she loves Souleiman, Ada is engaged to a rich family’s son who works mainly in Italy.

He returns to Dakar for the wedding — bringing a rose gold iPhone for his fiancée — just as Souleiman, along with some of his co-workers, sets off in a boat, hoping to reach Spain.

Diop renders their relationship, along with the many barriers they face, with compassion and unlikely mysticism.

When Ada and Omar’s wedding bed is set on fire, there’s a suspicion that one group of friends blame Souleiman for the incident to get him in trouble—and embroil Ada in a scandal.

As Ada, newcomer Mame Bineta Sane is absolutely electric. She begins the film with almost a girlish crush on Souleiman, but over the course of the movie, we see her love for him and who she is as a person grow. She’s quiet and looking devastated as her friends talk over her to tell her to move on from Souleiman and enjoy life with Omar. Eventually, Ada becomes petulant with her mother and stands up for herself when Omar tries to force her to come with him. She’s no longer controlled by an uncaring husband, her conservative parents who force her to get her virginity proven by a doctor or her meddling friends. Sane’s passionate and lively approach to the character takes us with her on Ada’s emotional journey to find out what happened to her love as she is to find out who she will be as an adult.


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