Film Review: Aujourd’hui (Today) Directed by Alain Gomis and Starring Saul Williams Surprises With Its Simplicity and Power
Aujourd’hui (premiered in competition at the Berlinale 2012) is a poetic and hauntingly gentle film from director Alain Gomis. The script is expertly interpreted by his cast and crew as the story of one man's last day on earth unfolds.
Events are felt and seen without excess words to distract. It is memorable in its economy of movement, reserved and sparse dialogue and human emotions that bubble to the surface in a slow simmer.
Director-writer Alain Gomis’ expressions of life in this dream, this “fairy tale” as he describes it, paints a story that is unreal yet real, compelling and repelling, heartfelt and cruel, joyful and frightening. When the words do come, they are striking. And when the lights go out at the end, we sit examining our own lives, pondering the answer to a simple question: What would I do if this were the last day of my life?
Aujourd’hui, is written and directed by Alain Gomis (Andalucia, Ahmed, L’Afrance, Tourbillons) and stars American actor-musician Saul Williams as Satche, with Djolog Mbengue as his best friend.
Anisia Uzeyman plays his wife, Rama, a frustrated, angry and frightened woman trapped in an unbearable situation because she knows she is going to lose her husband. She doesn’t want him to touch her or come near her, but her heart is breaking and she aches for him nonetheless.
Mariko Arame as his muse, Nella, is at the same time irresistible, sexually hypnotic and deeply cruel. She, too, is angry at her impending loss and when Satche goes to her for solace, he finds only bitterness.
Within the first five minutes, we know this man and we love him for his humanity and heart. A slow pan through what turns out to be his bedroom in his mother’s house reveals the story of his life – family pictures, the fan cooling the air, personal articles filled with generations of memories.
Then we hear breathing as he awakens and we watch as his hand moves slowly toward his body as if feeling it to see if he is still alive. He is, but not for much longer.
The journey through his last day on earth begins. He walks slowly through the hallways of this home and is greeted by friends and family, moving into a room where they reveal what they know about him – the good and the bad. We look deeply into his eyes and feel their hands on him as he reacts to what they are saying. We feel his joy and his pain.Continued on the next page