‘Our Father, The Devil’ Serves Important Messages [Tribeca 2022 Review]
There's a lot to unpack here.
Writer-Director Ellie Foumbi’s feature directorial debut, Our Father, The Devil, defies genre and expectations. It’s not the kind of psychological thriller we’ve come to expect. You’re not going to voice note your squad with quotable lines and wild moments after the credits roll. It’s not even the kind of movie you’re sure how to feel about until after you’ve sat with it for a day or so; you need time to unpack all of the intricate themes and topics it brings up. This supposed slow burn simmers until it boils over like all of the emotions and memories a lot of us repress so that we can get through our daily tasks.
This heavy thriller explores trauma, revenge, and the parts of ourselves that helped us survive but we’re not proud of. The film is specifically focused on Marie Cissé (Babetida Sadjo) who works as the head chef at a retirement home in small-town France. We see her trying to own this life she’s making for herself, and these friendships she’s developing. However, she’s guarded and never feels truly at ease in her surroundings. When Father Patrick (Souléymane Sy Savané) arrives we get another piece of this puzzle. As Marie watches him act like a man of the cloth, she’s being reminded of the horrors she’s endured at his hands.
It’s hard to sell a revenge piece that doesn’t have a Kill Bill body count. It’s also hard to have a thriller that’s quiet and leaves the horror internalized in this post-A24 landscape. However, this movie does both and gives our protagonist closure. It even lends some sympathy to the devil, that most of us probably would never.
I’m here for a movie that understands healing is the hardest thing most of us can possibly strive for. It’s messy, it’s uncomfortable, and it looks different for everyone. Foumbi gets that, and Sadjo’s performance embodies that in a way that is beyond genre. We see our lead come from a place of fear, rage, hurt, and combinations of more emotions than can ever truly be defined. Sadjo is the anchor of a cast full of award-worthy performances. Because at the heart of this thriller is a complex drama, I hope they get their rightful recognition. I hope this movie is exposed as art that is too big and important to shove into any box.
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While I’m here for the messages in this thriller, I do think it’s a little long at an hour and forty-eight minutes. I also am not sure the attempts at trying to make Marie seem like an unreliable narrator work. However, I’m prone to believe victims and I recognize trauma when I see it. Perhaps, those moments will work on a larger number of audience members than we can imagine though. All I know is that whatever this movie is, it’s important and I highly recommend it for those trying to reconcile their past selves with their current selves. Whatever you did to survive doesn’t define you. You’re also completely validated to feel your rage and sadness. But you also owe yourself some kindness.
Come for the Black leads in a French psychological thriller. However, stay so you can hear a lot of things we all need to hear every once in a while.
Let me know if you’ve seen this Our Father, The Devil at misssharai.
There’s a lot of award worthy performances in this movie. There’s also a lot to unpack with our therapists as it aims to remind us to heal ourselves.