A compelling and, at times, exhilarating film about the eponymous Grigris and his life in Chad. Despite a major physical disability he dances in a night club to the delight of everyone there. They see him dance in a graceful, fluid and energetic fashion that takes the breath away. He especially gains the attention of Mimi; a woman of negotiable affection.
He earns money from his dancing, as he does from a number of other jobs and activities he takes part in. He helps his mother to distribute washed clothes around the town and he helps his step-father in his tailor’s shop where Grigris takes photos in the studio in the back. It’s here that he first speaks to Mimi, as it turns out that she’s an aspiring model. Their relationship blossoms from there, whilst suffering a few ups and downs. His step-father is taken ill however, and this leads Grigris on a path to make large amounts as health needs to be paid for.
Within all this the theme of loyalty is explored plentifully in the film. This leads Grigris to work out how all of these priorities maybe contradict each other. At times in doing the right thing by someone he ends up doing the wrong thing by someone else. This is exacerbated by Grigris becoming involved in petrol smuggling which has of course potentially more serious effects, and if you piss these people off they generally stay pissed off.
Mimi’s character is very interesting as well. In working as a prostitute she does need to have good customer service skills and be welcoming to people. The film however ably explores the vulnerability of her situation and the potential dangers that she has to expose herself to. In effect her safety is only really guaranteed by the attitude and the behaviour of her clients. It’s telling that she looks like a different person when she’s working and when she’s not, as if there are two different persons.
The film does slip into some twee moments sometimes, but that maybe the relative experience of the actors used in different scenes. There are a number of scenes in a Chadian village and I got the impression that the characters there were portrayed by amateur actors. It seems to be a common theme in films these days but there is the difference between city life and rural life that seems to be becoming more pronounced these days.