The Invader- dir. Nicolas Provost
The subject of immigration in Europe is always treated with care even in the art form of visual media. Most European film makers dance around the subject. From the opening scene on it is clear that The Invader is not your run-of-the-mill immigrant drama, courtesy of Nicolas Provost , an enigmatic Belgian visual artist and filmmaker. He established his name with a number of short films and video installations (Plot Point , Stardust) where he created his own visual style. In two of his shorts Exoticore and Induction , he collaborated with the imposing Burkinabé actor Issaka Sawadogo, who plays the protagonist Amadou in The Invader.
The Invader revolves around the African immigrant Amadou who is washed up on a beach in southern Europe. His journey leads him to the metropolitan city of Brussels (which stands for Europe) where illegal immigrants, dissolve in the labyrinth of the city, and human dignity seems to have disappeared. His daily life is drained of hope because he’s exploited by traffickers and the hard work takes his toil. Until he meets Agnès (Stefania Rocca) a beautiful businesswoman who can be his golden ticket to a better life.
Provost used his talent for creating subcutaneous tension in his feature film debut. The film presents a wide array of themes such as race, immigration, sexual politics and so on. Provost brings an intelligent and unprejudiced look to find out where the friction stems from. The lead Amadou is no longer the cliché victim of immigration, instead he is a man on a mission. A man who took a live changing step in order to fulfil his dreams and ambitions. The Invader gives us insight in the hopes, dreams and fears of the other. The first twenty minutes of the film highlight the hallucinatory journey of Amadou, and then switches to a stylized thriller in the center of Brussels, mixed with black humor and mafia clichés. Stylistically the film sometimes feels like a trip, as if Amadou walks on the binary between dreams and reality. Each image is accurately shot and there’s even a wink to Michelangelo Antonioni.
Provost keeps all the characters deliberately vague. We meet Amadou without any history – or background information. The film is open to interpretation. Provost plays a game with genre conventions and expectations without losing the core of the plot. The story is carried on the broad shoulders and the physical presence of Sawadogo. Some actors just know how to use their body and with minimal nonverbal communication can give extra cachet to a character, Sawadogo is one of them. His Amadou is not only a victim of Western exploitation, but he is at the same time an opportunistic ‘intruder’. Amadou can be seen as a self-destructive man both physically and psychologically.
Provost kept the atmosphere of underlining threat throughout the film. The Invader is an original and electric story. The polished camera work of cinematographer Frank van den Eeden and his inventive use of Brussels as a cold, concrete metropolitan city, adds color to this grim story. Every day, we walk past people without knowing who they are and what their story is. The open ending of The Invader gives you food for thought – if only for a minute – on immigrant experiences around the world.
Giselle enjoys googling random things like it’s academic research but her grandma Hilda had a premonition of a great future. So, there’s that.
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