The director imbues the piece with a spellbinding mysticism, accompanied by a spectral score by Yu Miyashita. Its shrill dissonance resonates as if it were a chorus of screaming voices from the afterlife. Like Mantoa, Twala is framed small in the wide shots that make up a large percentage of cinematographer Pierre de Villiers’ boxy frames. In each shot, the camera and the laborious composition interact (through subtle zooms or pans) to maximize their meaning. Saturated colors, the kind so rarely seen in Western cinema these days, permeate the mountain vistas and their open skies with a magnificent timelessness.
By presenting cultural practices and ceremonies, Mosese does not entertain ethnographic curiosity but presents them as a living part of the tapestry of the world at hand. This tacit approach to specificity which does not consider the white gaze to be part of its cinematographic language reflects that of recent African releases which navigate powerfully in storytelling and myth, such as the Ivorian “Night of the Kings” and the “You will die at twenty ”, Or the recent“ Vitalina Varela ”by Pedro Costa, centered on Cape Verde, in her treatment of grief and human reproach for the divine. All of these stories are absorbed by an austere supernatural.
In her quest for a true departure from this mortal realm that no longer seems to have a place for her, Mantoa does the opposite of drawing closer to the Christian divinity in her last days. It decolonizes the death of the spirituality imposed on it and in which it no longer finds meaning. It’s radical to hear her denounce how all the pain she has endured in her lifetime may have been for nothing.
But just as nihilism seems to reign, Mosese turns his revelations into something far more powerful than giving up. Its meaning is in the ground where it stands, where her husband built a house for her with his own hands so that they could make a home out of it. It is in the memory of the underground remains and in every flower that grows above them. The extraordinary Twala makes us believe; his unshakeable conviction becomes a fact anchored in a place where nothing seems immutable any more.