Review: Sing, Freetown

Directed by Clive Patterson, two friends from one of the world’s poorest countries go on a journey to the stage the most ambitious play in the nation’s history. It doesn’t go as planned. Starring: Sorious Samura and Charlie Haffner.

The first thing you have to talk about with this film is the direction and visual quality because it opens on some absolutely beautiful imagery. It’s a quality that continues throughout, they’re aiming to show what Sierra Leone has to offer and they certainly achieve that with this crisp, sharp and stunning visual. It wonderfully takes in the colours, the energy and the natural beauty. The directorial style very much reflects the themes of pride, respect and community as well as containing the gravity and complexity of the subject at hand.

One of the elements that so well helps to keep the balance between its positive, motivated attitude and the seriousness of the history of their nation is the men who guide this story. Both Samura and Haffner give the film such a natural charisma, they’re strong, smart, charming and dedicated people. You can easily see the sincere frustration that comes from putting the weight of the world on their shoulders, tasking themselves with refreshing their nation’s pride when it’s a hefty job, one that not many people would take on.

The progression of the story brings through the theatrical, artistic side of the play they’re trying to create but never loses sight of its significance, of the horrors that their country has lived through. As it explores these aspects, there’s a growing intensity to it, almost to the point of creating a suspense, it’s a race against the clock if these men can do themselves and their country justice. You could potentially say that it does lose some of its steam in the latter half but the atmosphere that it has built up until that point and the sincerity and selflessness of their intentions sees it through.

There are a lot of emotions running through this story, when their frustrations build with the looming production, there’s a genuine sadness lingering in the air. Though this experience is one very specific to the people of Sierra Leone, it’s one that also feels very accessible. Its subjects are intensely relatable, its generous and kind nature flows easily, and it’s a moving experience to watch.

Sing, Freetown is a film with a big heart, following two men with herculean goals, fiercely dedicated to their country. It’s shot beautifully, exploring the natural treasures that Sierra Leone has to offer and the generosity of its people. It manages to hold an extremely positive attitude despite discussing the gravity of the country’s past and their frustration and desperation to reach their goal. The film is a wonderful example of what you can achieve when you truly give everything you have to a project.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯

Sing, Freetown begins its limited cinema release with an exclusive run at
Picturehouse Central from Friday 25th June

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