Io Capitano – Film Review

Directed by Matteo Garrone and based on a screenplay by Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, Massimo Ceccherini and Andrea Tagliaferri, respectively, Io Capitano is a Wolof-language drama film inspired by the various stories and events of migrants travelling to Europe to escape poverty and live a better and longer-lasting life.

The story follows two Senegalese teenage boys, cousins Seydou and Moussa, who yearn for a better life outside of poverty from their hometown of Dakar and want to escape to Italy. The two boys decide to leave together without informing any family, especially against Seydou’s Mother’s wishes, and begin their trek across the hot desert to Italy. Of course, things are not so simple and despite warnings told to them about the dangers of doing so, Seydou and Moussa learn the very hard way of the dangers this poses to them and many others looking to search for a greater life.

Io Capitano’s story had me sitting on the edge of my seat several times and I was a little shocked at what eventually transpired as these two boys travelled for the biggest journey of their lifetimes. At times I even felt uncomfortable and extremely sad at what I was witnessing, only to remind myself this is a film, despite this being inspired by true events and stories of emigration from Africa to Europe, a sad and crushing detail that once again made me feel down at what I was witnessing. It’s a well told story about the determination of what humans can do or what they desperately strive for when giving it your all, and in some ways, it’s quite inspirational.

Credit must go to actor Seydou Sarr as Seydou, who provided a believable and great performance as the glue holding together these two boys to overcome adversity and lead the way of a better life. I really believed for a second that this was genuine, and his performance was as great. Being tasked with the main responsibility of leading this journey as Seydou was the one who came up with the idea in the first place to leave Dakar, Sarr pulled this off very well and gave a solid performance.

Story and acting aside, this film’s biggest success lies within its cinematography. Various shots of the stunning but dangerous desert, a singular tree standing within this swirling yellow and orange, combining colours together on the screen, Io Capitano stuns with its various shots of the journey that Seydou and Moussa take us on.

Paolo Carnera is responsible for the way this film is showcased and deserves mention in the way Io Capitano helps identify the struggling journey our two main characters traverse through for a better life. Dangerous or not, you can’t help but admire the way this film looks and it’s gorgeous. Even views of visible town life look nicely shot with various colours or variants of the same colour, making this movie a feast for the eyes.

Io Capitano is an intense and intriguing film about Seydou and Moussa’s journey of what feels like travelling through the pits of hell to reach the comfortability of heaven. It’s a somewhat confronting film but this is what makes everything work for this movie. There’s no sugar-coating it or making us feel content; it’s meant to be shocking and horrifying by showing the reality of what people want for a better future in such a tough and scary scenario.

Alongside a believable and great performance by Seydou Sarr and Paolo Carnera’s stunning cinematography, Io Capitano is a great film that is sure to touch everyone’s heart watching these two boys’ journey to Italy.

Io Capitano is in cinemas now.

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