- BOTTOM LINE: Hard-hitting story executed amateurishly
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
The Traore brothers Demba, Soulaymann and Noumouke residing in a Parisian suburb, amid contrasting situations, are at crossroads in their lives. Demba, who stays away from the family is the eldest of them all. A drug dealer, he lives life on the edge, thanks to his frequent tussles with his arch-nemesis. Soulaymann, supposedly the most promising of all the siblings, is an aspirant lawyer, exuding hope for a rosy future and trying his best to keep the family together.
Noumouke, much to the worry of his mom, is taking a similar path to life like Demba, being a rebel at school, a secret drug addict who even resorts to small-time thefts. Khadijah, the matriarchal head of the family and the mother to the three boys, is ageing and is the only unit that binds the brothers. It takes a crisis for them to understand what it means to be the immigrants and belong to a minority community.
Everything about the performances is quite rooted and authentic. Most actors are at home in their parts and seem to be living their lives as if they were unaffected by the camera placed in front of them. Jammeh Diangana is, of course, the scene-stealer, as an emerging advocate, making sense of his surroundings, academics, just blossoming love-life.
The troubled kid-part fits Bakary Diombera like a T, he’s so relaxed and composed for his age and conveys his emotions with a mere blink or a glance. Kery James has a body language apt for his role as a drug dealer, his dialogues and diction particularly reflecting his anger at the society. Kani Diarra as the mother has something so comforting about her screen presence, an unsurprising reason for which she was cast in this role. The other supporting actors, particularly the woman who plays the romantic interest of Jammeh makes her presence felt.
Street Flow, in the guise of a family drama, is indeed a powerful story that discusses the indifference of the state towards immigrants in a country and the infighting among their community. Are people, the products nurtured by the government in power or their inner demons/ambitions? The three brothers are the protagonists who look at the society in three different dimensions – through the eyes of an advocate, a rebel who makes ends meet the hard way, as a kid looking for instant gratification.
The filmmakers Kery James and Leïla Sy use a brilliant courtroom segment to divulge the essence of his story, where there’s a debate between two aspirant advocates on the responsibility of the State for the fate of its citizens, particularly its immigrants. The two aspirant advocates are falling in love with each other and their conflict is something that drives the story forward too – one of them is a native and the other is an immigrant. The immigrant finds it tough to separate society from his personal life.
While this is the larger purpose of the story, the family drama has the brothers trying to find answers to life after their mother suffers from a heart stroke. A young kid, who’s suspended from school and denied money from his brother, resorts to stealing from the latter’s enemy, only to invite more peril into his already-troubled existence. The parallel between these worlds makes for an interesting but not always gripping narrative.
The film tries to put across many powerful statements yet the emotional impact isn’t quite striking. The makers try to be very precise with what they wish to convey but don’t develop the character arcs and their backstories convincingly. It’s a strange situation for a viewer because he/she wishes to be moved by the plot, and many things about the narrative seem abstract and underexplored – sometimes it is also too simplistic. The human element of the story evokes a connect though. Whenever the argument jumps to society, you get a feeling that the storytellers were trying too hard. Despite ending with a bang, it is lost somewhere between its ‘isms’ and human drama.
Music and Other Departments?
The sound design is sharp but the background score isn’t quite the uplifting one that the powerful theme deserved. The atmosphere is sometimes more morose than needed and even in the tense sequences, the music score lacks intensity. The writing is quite layered but it’s the execution where the team falters.
A narrative that lacks emotional depth
Too simplistic at times
Street Flow Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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