In his third feature film, <i>Le Jardin de Papa</i>, director Zeka Laplaine wittily crafts a dense and luminously resonant narrative in which a succession of mishaps reveal the true colors of its characters and the political situation they inhabit.
Jean and Marie, a young French couple, go on a honeymoon to Africa. It has been 25 years since Jean, a white, native African, has seen his birthplace. They arrive the day before elections, and the atmosphere is heavy. Jean attempts to negotiate with customs officers and taxi drivers in outdated manners and ends up being detained for hours at the airport and then heading for the city in an overpriced taxi well after dark. In the center of town, the driver accidentally runs over a child, drawing rage and retribution on both himself and the couple from ostensible presidential campaigners. The resulting crisis unearths unconscious colonial baggage and attitudes and transforms the characters in revealing ways.
<i>Le Jardin de Papa</i> could depict any West African city undergoing the recent wave of democratization. Laplaine sets out to tell a story that spans nations and continents. He has ultimately crafted a brilliant symbolic portrait of the decline of colonialism and innocence born out of privilege.
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