Pierrette, a gifted seamstress and a mom of three, can’t appear to catch a break. After a tough day’s work at her humble store in Douala, a busy metropolis in Cameroon, she’s mugged by a motorbike taxi driver. It’s additionally the wet season and her dwelling — and later her store — is flooded in a single day. It’s a foul time to be broke: The youngsters are heading again to highschool and their provides aren’t low-cost.

The occasions of “Mambar Pierrette” are fictional, however the movie’s nonprofesssional actors play variations of themselves. The drama is the primary narrative characteristic by Rosine Mbakam, a Cameroonian filmmaker based mostly in Belgium. Over the previous decade, Mbakam has distinguished herself as a formidable verité-style documentarian; her topics, Cameroonian girls at dwelling and abroad.

Pierrette Aboheu Njeuthat, solid within the title position, is Mbakam’s cousin, and most of the figures who orbit Pierrette’s life are the actress’s neighbors and kin.

A wealthy neighborhood portrait unfolds as Pierrette prepares her purchasers’ orders and flits round city placing out fires. We get a way of the patriarchal customs that dictate village life; the frictions between trendy, enterprising girls like Pierrette and tradition-bound ones like her mom. These and different realities are made obvious in a superbly natural method, via the form of intimate chatter that occurs between individuals who’ve identified one another for many years.

Pierrette’s rotten luck is not any joke. We see, with startling readability, how a stolen pockets turns right into a missed cost, and an electrical energy shut-off means a stitching machine that may’t sew. But the movie’s light naturalism (at instances edging on the uncanny, courtesy of cheeky enhancing rhythms and an unsettling-looking model) provides her tribulations a cosmic undertone.

Mbakam hits a exceptional steadiness. The sociopolitical truths that make up Pierrette’s shedding streak are evident, with out the depressing patronizing so widespread in movies about battle in Africa. Additionally palpable is a extra common intestine feeling: the half-serious suspicion that one has been cursed.

Mambar Pierrette
Not rated. In French, with subtitles. Working time: 1 hour 33 minutes. In theaters.

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