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Thursday, June 23, 2011

261. Viva Riva


    I woke up in our hotel room at 8am and Mrs W is snoring. I'd like to say snoring peacefully but actually I'm concerned whether the noise abatement people might be raiding at any moment.
    Anyway, I give her a double shove and decide the only thing for it is to tick off another movie - in this case Djo Munga's Viva Riva which is out in the UK this weekend.
    The very fact that Munga's movie has made it to Europe is a success in itself.
    His company and this film are based in Kinshasha. You know, the place in Zaire where Ali and Foreman battled the rumble in the jungle.
    Today Kinshasha is much changed. It is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo and is, frankly, something of a hell hole.
    I was already aware of this having seen the fantastic Benda Bilili and the hard-hitting Living In Emergency.
    But this is the first Congolese drama I've seen and it reflects an even seamier side.
    Riva (Patsha Bay) has made his way through charm but fierce ambition to 'earn' as much money as possible.
    His latest scam involved the stealing of a truck load of fuel - we would compare this to a gold heist in Europe.
    Selling the fuel will add to Riva's growing fortune.
    But we soon learn he has weaknesses - women and reckless spending.
    Thus, having made moves on the local crimelord's lady would have made him vulnerable enough but he is also being trailed by the Angolan gangsters from whom he snatched the fuel.
    Tracking him becomes easy because he is constantly flashing the cash.
    The storyline of Viva Riva is proficient enough and the chase certainly thrills but it is the picture of Kinshasha which causes the greatest stir.
    If life in the DRC's capital is really this cheap it must be the most frightening place on earth.
    The impression is that the place has descended into anarchy, where the most brutal of men are at the top and women sell themselves for a few dollars.
    The violence in Viva Riva is startling in its ruthlessness rather than remorselessness and the sex scenes engender feelings of pity rather than being erotic.
    Apparently Munga has returned to his homeland after studying in Belgium. he has made a commitment to keep his film company in Kinshasha.
    One can only wish him well. Considering his constraints, this is a remarkable work. Without any background knowledge, it holds its own against many on current release.
    Rating? 7/10.

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261. Viva Riva


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