Hard-hitting, Captivating and Moving, Matteo Garrone has Created a Masterpiece

A film that will leave you acknowledging your privilege. Emily Sinclair reviews Io Capitano for SCENE

(Image: Greta De Lazzaris)

Immediately we are transported to Dakar, Senegal, and introduced to Seydou and Moussa, cousins who are both around 16 years old. The film starts by showing their cheeky yet incredibly loving relationship. Like any teenage boys, they’re introduced to us as boisterous and carefree. This quickly changes.

Underneath it all they are desperate to go to Europe, a place they believe holds great promise for them and their music careers. No matter what anyone says, they have been sold a European dream and are determined to make it. Europe is framed as a place that will free them and their families from poverty. This is what drives them. 

The rest of the film follows the boys through the struggles of migration including crossing borders and the Sahara Desert. Director Matteo Garrone makes sure that you are left broken as you watch these two young boys immediately have to face things most of us adults can’t even imagine. It is insightful and intense, yet somehow maintains a level of humanity and even comedy throughout. It demonstrates the strength of humans. 

The film has some incredible panoramic shots. In between the more intimate shots between the two focal characters, it gives us access to the impressive African landscape. These are always accompanied by a splendid soundtrack. 

Overall, it was a film that left me feeling overwhelmingly lucky to be in the position that I am. It raised questions of morals, politics and social norms as I found myself thinking about the horrors so many migrants have to face daily, the people behind the statistics. It is a film that encourages empathy. 

Io Capitano is out in cinemas on the 5th of April. Altitude Films mention the charities Amnesty International, The Red Cross and the UN Migration Agency for all their help providing aid to those migrating to Europe.