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  Air Conditioner Cool It
Year: 2020
Director: Fradique
Stars: Jose Kiteculo, Filomena Manuel, David Caracol, Tito Spyck, Sacerdote, Filipe Kamela Paly, Wilson Medradas, Madalena Celestino Domingos Salgueiro, Ana Maria Celestino Salgueiro, Solange Caetano Feijo, Francisca Laura
Genre: Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There have been news reports on the radio in Luanda, capital of Angola, that say there has been a bizarre spate of accidents recently due to the air conditioning units falling from walls and more than occasionally landing on people below. Zezinha (Filomena Manuel) knows all about this because it has sent her boss into a rage, and when he calls her he is demanding she find a replacement AC unit for his office to take the job of cooling him down. Many Angolans do not have this relative luxury and are doomed to become hotter and hotter, but the boss doesn't care about them, only himself. Zezinha is not too bothered either, as she has resident security guard and handyman Matacedo (Jose Kiteculo) to do this kind of work for her...

So off goes our unassuming hero, to solve this unseen boss's problem, leading him down a curious path that takes the film to glancing acknowledgement of Afrofuturism, which is appropriate since this was an African movie with science fiction overtones, and not merely the kamikaze air conditioning. It was the brainchild of one of Angola's brightest talents in the field of film, Fradique, who in conjunction with his co-writer and cinematographer Ery Claver devised this leisurely paced but deceptively acerbic take on his country's class system, and indeed the class that Africa found itself in as the climate change issues grew increasingly pressing. For that was the problem with air conditioning: the more you use it to cool down, the hotter it grows worldwide.

That is thanks to the pollution that using its power creates, yet while Fradique did not expressly state this was on his mind, after spending time with the sweltering Matacedo it's as close as you can get to walking a mile in his moccasins, mostly thanks to much of the story featuring him walking about. He needs to find that replacement unit, but it takes him to the lab of amateur electronics whizz Mr Mino (David Caracol), who has been salvaging the units that have effectively committed machine suicide (and possibly human murder in a manner the Transformers franchise declined to include). Mr Mino discovers that if he hooks up these scraps of bits and pieces to his twentieth century television sets, he can play images on them, images of memories of the people in the city, though precisely what he does with them subsequently is more of a mystery than how they got there.

In Western science fiction yarns, this revelation would lead to all sorts of "we have to go back to the past to save the future!" shenanigans, or maybe a murder to solve, but not here, once the tech strangeness is established, the film observes, says "fancy that!" and moves on. There was was a lot unexpectedly relaxing about this approach to the fantastical, which may be part of the Angolan attitude to life, as far as outsiders could register from watching this (locals may have a different view), that mixed with a lot of more prosaic, watchful material crafted an experience that may have been too laidback to truly develop some provocative notions, but also made you not care that much about the implications, at least until the film was over and you were contemplating it. Also, some of the imagery proved the skill of the filmmakers, be that the AC units raining from the buildings in placid, but no less dangerous, slow motion, or the kids' football match played out as the camera recorded their long shadows upside down on the ground. It was full of contemplative bits like that. Fine score by Aline Frazao, too.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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