16-year-olds Seydou and Moussa live in Senegal. They are cousins and best friends who write songs and dream of being big stars in Europe. Unknown to their families they are working and saving up money for the overland trip from Dakar to Italy, which feels like a grand adventure to them. Of course, it turns out to be anything but. It is a hellish odyssey that is hard to watch at times even if it is all too real for many migrants around the world.

Italian director Matteo Garrone (Dogman, Gomorrah) regularly casts unknowns in his film and his lead actor here, Seydou Sarr, is a young actor worth watching.  He captures your heart as he transforms from happy teen, to bewildered  traveler, to petrified prisoner, and then to triumphant boat captain. [He won the award for

The story takes him and his cousin across the Sahara, into the hands of rebels who take all their money and torturers intent on extorting their families for money for their safety. Seydou and Moussa are separated and Seydou is sold to a contractor to build a wall and a fountain for a rich Libyan along side a kind older Senegalese prisoner who is looking out for him. When he is released from him indentured state, he searches for Moussa. And when they finally get together the last part of their trek is in a rickety boat across the sea to Sicily, crowded to the brim with other desperate migrants. Seydou is forced to be the captain (capitano in Italian) and despite having no experience, he is able to rise to the challenge.

The film is only a glimpse into the world that migrants endure in their quest for a better life. It’s beautifully shot and comes close at time to being what people call “misery porn”, but all the suffering is not the only thing that Garrone is presenting. Seydou is a great character, growing as he endures one distressing incident after the last, while retaining his humanity and his hope.

The film is a nominated for a 2024 Oscar in the 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *