When American musician Saul Williams and actor-writer Anisia Uzeyman got here up with the idea for his or her directorial debut, Neptune Frost, they thought-about utilizing a number of mediums, together with a studio album, a graphic novel, and a stage musical. It’s improper to say they settled on a movie, as a result of Neptune Frost looks like an amalgamation of the entire above. A robust treatise on the destruction of constructed binaries, the pair are iconoclastic of their strategy: they take what exists and reshuffle it into one thing unique and fluid.
Set in Burundi however shot in Rwanda, the younger Neptune begins out performed by Elvis Ngabo, earlier than blossoming into Cheryl Isheja after being taken to a spot often known as the ‘Motherboard’ by a priestess. Their journey by gender presentation bleeds into the broader conflict between a collective of hackers referred to as Digitoria and ‘The Authority’ who exploit the work and our bodies of the villagers. Politics and identification collide with romance as Neptune kinds a relationship with the collective’s chief, Matalusa, performed by Burundian rapper Bertrand ‘Kaya Free’ Ninteretse.
The Afrofuturist aesthetic is sensational to observe.
The songs in Neptune Frost look past our world to an imagined one, to outer area the place Earthly binaries don’t exist. A few of the music feels harking back to the radically transgressive cult queer musical Hedwig And The Indignant Inch (2001), equally smashing gendered photos collectively to create one thing new and delightful. The Afrofuturist aesthetic is sensational to observe, peppering the darkness with fluorescent paints and located objects to create one thing alien however nonetheless identifiable as human. But every time we come again to actuality, one thing has shifted in our notion.
Neptune Frost makes use of the musical to raise a practice of African surrealism, from Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973) to Mati Diop’s Atlantics (2019), into a singular work. It’s not a distinction to be afraid of, although — embrace it, and who is aware of what we would uncover about ourselves and one another.