Review: The Possessions of Mati Diop's "Atlantics"

Images of the North Atlantic—sunbathed, moonlit, digitally rendered in some shots but no less striking—punctuate Mati Diop’s hypnotic debut feature Atlantics (Atlantique). The waves surging the shores of Dakar, Senegal poetically encapsulate the duality that animates her soulful fable, where the ocean emerges as a central character, seductive and foreboding, a specter of past and contemporary traumas, buried and bound to resurface with the tide. Ten years ago, Diop’s original short of the same name referenced the infamous journey of the Méduse, the 19th century French naval frigate that departed from Rochefort and ran aground off the West African coast. Close to mind are kin events, the refugee crisis and—more so here than in its progenitor—memory of the Middle Passage: the voyage of no return, the moment of rupture that beget generations of two-spirited children. Perhaps no figure is more suited to convey this two-ness,
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