Review: Le Voyage de Talia
- Christophe Rolin delivers a classic yet moving debut feature film, charting the initiatory journey of a young Belgian of African descent who sets off in search of herself to her parents’ homeland
Talia is twenty or so years old. She lives in Brussels with her boyfriend where everything is in its place, "like a well-arranged painting". But something is missing, an anchor point, perhaps; an adventure, almost certainly. This is where Le Voyage de Talia [+see also:
interview: Christophe Rolin
film profile] kicks off, Christophe Rolin’s first feature film which was screened in a world premiere in the Brussels International Film Festival’s national competition.
Talia throws on her backpack and heads for Dakar, where she soon finds her bearings, although it’s not exactly what she expected it to be. Welcomed by her cousin Binta, who’s from a privileged background and who introduces Talia to her world, our protagonist soon comes across another young woman over the course of her adventures: Malika, who hails from a more working-class neighbourhood.
The Dakar Talia discovers is a whole other city to the one she’d imagined, and perhaps a whole other city to the one the audience imagines: festive and shimmering on the one hand, fierce yet bright on the other.
In the company of Malika, Talia experiences the here and now, identity and alterity. Who is she, really? The black toubab who wants to impose herself within a city which doesn’t belong to her? Or a young woman who is finding her feet by tracing her grandmother? More than likely a mix of the two.
As she looks into her history, Talia encounters sameness and difference, the same colour, another language, the same tastes, other smells. Her search for herself leads her into her past, and her journey through space turns into a journey through time, seeking out her roots.
Alongside this re-writing of the past, Talia is confronted with another universe, another possible way of being. What if her parents had stayed here? Would she have been a Binta or a Malika? Projecting herself into other possible selves helps her to better understand where she comes from, who she is and, we suspect, where she wants to go.
Out of this introspection, which takes the form of a journey towards the other, emerges the wonderful film duo composed of Talia and Malika, who are played by a new, young Belgian actress Nadège Tansia and Senegal’s Aminata Sarr. Their unexpected friendship takes flight over the course of the story and lends the latter a different scope, juxtaposing their two journeys.
Le Voyage de Talia is self-produced by the director himself, in association with Bande de Ciné, with few resources but with a certain degree of freedom. The movie is co-produced by ADV Productions in Belgium and by Sunuy Films in Senegal.
(Translated from French)
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