Year Released: 2017
Distributor: Minike Multimedia
Origin: Cote D’Ivoire/Ghana
Running Time: 16 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 15+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Corruption, Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, Hatuko Watumwa
-This film is streaming on YouTube.
-Kara is a fictional city, but there are two areas in Africa which share the same name. There’s a city in Togo and a sub-prefecture in Chad also called Kara. Hmm…I’ve reviewed movies from those respective nations with Tailor Made in Togo and A Screaming Man.
-Microbe is from Cote D’Ivoire AKA Ivory Coast (either name is acceptable). It’s a West African nation that interestingly enough has two capital cities. There’s Abidjan which is also the largest city of that nation while the political capital is Yamoussoukro. Also, don’t confuse their flag with Ireland’s. Just saying.
Film Buff Bonus: Portions of the 28 Days Later and Troy soundtrack were used as background music.
Another goal country has been reached with this review! I’m taking on an Ivorian short film this time around. I can finally check that nation off of my little list. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the few reviewers who actually has geographical goals when it comes to blogging. I didn’t know all that much besides that country besides the fact that French is one of the major languages and the singer/percussionist Dobet Gnahore is from there (check out her music. She’s awesome!). It’s always good to expand my mind to check out the cinema from a culture I’m not too familiar with.
Let’s see what this film is like.
Microbe is about a young woman named Yanouch who is adamant about doing some charity. This particular mission involves going to a ravaged town called Kara to give some things to the local children. Most of her friends are extremely reluctant as the town has no security and gangs are running around in pure anarchy, but they begrudgingly come with her to help on the condition that they’re only going to be there for an hour and a half. They go to Kara to give some aid, but it doesn’t become long before one of the gangs notices their presence while raising hell against their charity. How does Yanouch deal with the situation and especially the aftermath?
I didn’t expect this film to get deconstructive when it comes to storylines like this. One act of a charity turns out to be quite a tragedy to say the least. The sad part is the aftermath could’ve been avoided which I won’t spoil even as it becomes obvious not even halfway through the film’s run time. Yanouch is charitable, but it shows how prideful she was throughout the entire film. At first it becomes quite clear that she wants to help, but she has no regard for her fellow friends who didn’t want to go with her. The last few minutes are actually shocking with how much she (didn’t) learn from her experience. While she is brave, the rest of the people in the room are legitimately scared to go back which I actually don’t blame them. The production wasn’t pristine, but it certainly worked for a film like this. There were cases of slow-mo and switching to black and white for dramatic scenes which weren’t overdone. The friends of hers certainly had good character development and their facial expressions were great in dealing with the situations around them.
Microbe is more infected of a film than not. The ending was way too preachy and that fourth wall element with one character talking about the tragedy and what others could or should do. The Kara scenes certainly won’t do any favors on dispelling any negative preconceptions about Africa. Speaking of Kara, I found some of the action scenes unbelievable like how Yanouch swings her purse at one of the gangsters and he oversold that like he took a haymaker to the face. I wasn’t a fan of the opening theme which was just drowning in Auto-Tune. The implications of the whole plot were just problematic even with Yanouch’s character development and downfall. It really rubbed me the wrong way. The subtitles also got wonky throughout the second half of the film which also didn’t help.
I wished this movie was better. There was legitimate potential for a short film or even a full-length one out there. Microbe did have a legitimate concept, but the execution was left to be desired. I’m sure there are much better Ivorian films out there, but I was disappointed in this film.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-3 points if you like tragic stories.
Subtract 1-2 points if you can’t handle depressing movies.
-Fascinating take on Yanouch’s pride issues disguised as charity
-Good video production
-Poverty implications are condescending
-Mediocre opening theme
Final Score: 4/10 points
Content Warning: Microbe would be better for older audiences. This short film gets very violent as characters get shot, stabbed, and bleed a lot. Characters even die on-screen which gets quite intense.
All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. Microbe is property of Minike Multimedia. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Minike Multimedia.