Io Capitano - Film Review

Io Capitano - Film Review

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Posted 2024-03-26 by Jenfollow
Images © Archimede, Rai Cinema, Tarantula, Pathe

Io Capitano is the epic story of two Senegalese teenagers, 16-year-old Seydou and Moussa who decide to leave Dakar, Senegal to make their way to Italy. Longing for a brighter future, between their dreams and reality lies a labyrinth of checkpoints, the Sahara Desert, and the vast waters of the Mediterranean. They are repeatedly warned of this arduous journey, but the dream of a better life and becoming rich and famous as a musician in Europe is too big a dream to give up. But their journey is not as easy as they imagined and they are quickly confronted with horror: the obstacles of the Sahara, the horrors of detention centres in Libya and the perils of the open sea.

Directed by Matteo Garrone and starring Seydou Sarr, Moustapha Fall, Khady Sy, and Issaka Sawadogo, this drama was nominated for 'Best International Feature' at the 2024 Academy Awards; nominated for 'Best Motion Picture, Non-English' at the 2024 Golden Globe Awards; Winner - Silver Lion for Best Director 2023 Venice Film Festival; and Winner - San Sebastian Audience Award for Best European film 2023 San Sebastian International Film Festival. Garrone has crafted a suspenseful contemporary odyssey, offering a perspective far removed from the images we are used to seeing in the Western media. At its heart is a captivating performance from newcomer Seydou Sarr in a powerful and empathetic film that will move and uplift you and you'll find it in cinemas on 28 Mar 2024.


This film puts you in the front seat of a migration story. It has captured everything that could possibly go wrong, yet it allows the human spirit of hope, determination, and dreams to shine through the cracks. Seydou's mother is against her son taking off for foreign lands and warns him of the perils. He feigns it was only a joke, then slips away into the night with his cousin, on a journey in their naivety neither could have ever imagined. The road to a better life is forged with lies, bribery, shakedowns, rebels, the mafia, slavery, torture and death. Seydou and Moussa get separated, and Seydou must travel alone into the unknown. Moussa was the street smart strong one, but to his good luck, meagre as it may be, Seydou is taken under the wings of a fellow inmate in a jail run by the mafia. Those with a trade are sold to the wealthy, and Martin his fellow inmate offers himself and Seydou as bricklayers, even though Seydou had never been a bricklayer. Despite their servitude they are treated well as workers on a remote estate. Jobs well done, they are released and transported to Tripoli. Never losing hope of finding Moussa, Seydou parts company with Martin, whose quick thinking had saved him, and remains, working in construction while he continuously searches for his cousin.


The lens of the camera spares us nothing of the horrors, yet manages to remain tender in the way it tells the story of Seydou and Moussa. The attentive camera work highlights the cousin's fondness for each other, through their mutual dependence, gazes, gestures and unforced intimacy in the way they connect to each other. In the same way, the camera is adept at fleshing out what's important in the visceral way it tells the story with images that are both specific and laden with meaning - visually expansive and unforgettable. Shifting between close-ups and long shots you'll be within breathing distance of the teens, watching every expression of horror that washes over the stunned faces in a visceral way that is haunting. A story rarely told in media and inspired by real-life events, this film puts a human face on the global refugee crisis. Seydou Sarr is a musician making his acting debut and gives a wonderful open-hearted performance that exposes his deeply compassionate spirit. Garrone has managed to pull some deeply moving performances from his two young leads who are both starring in their first movie. He's taken us on an adventure that's filled with moments of nauseating horror but also one of great beauty and grace. He keeps you guessing till the very last moment while skilfully raising the bar of suspense that holds you with abated breath till the last moment. This is a film not to be missed.





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281120 - 2024-03-19 14:58:34

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