by Charles Kirkland, Jr.
Reunited after 17 years, an Angolan immigrant is joined in the U.S. by his wife and the daughter he never met in, Farewell Amor.
Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) is a cab driver. Here in America, he makes a living while sending the excess back home to Angola and his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) who is taking care of their daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson). After 17 long years, Walter receives notice that his wife and daughter are now coming to America to be with him. Of course, Walter has made a conveniently comfortable life for himself while alone in the US. With his life rearranged he finds himself sharing his one-bedroom apartment with a woman who is very different from the one he loved and the child he never met. Somehow, they all must discover a way to overcome the distance between them.
Farewell Amor is the first feature film written and directed by Ekwa Msangi and is loosely based upon her 2016 short, Farewell Meu Amor. It stars Mwine, Jah, and Lawson along with Joie Lee, Nana Mensah, and Black-ish’s Marcus Scribner. This is Msangi’s first feature-length film despite a few jobs writing and directing television shows. Msangi shows skill in her approach in both the writing and directing of this film. For instance, the original short was about a father, mother, and son reuniting. Msangi shows a smart adjustment by changing the son to a daughter, allowing her to incorporate some serious father-daughter intimacy issues.
Because this film is now about a father, mother, and daughter adjusting to each other. Msangi revisits the introductory act of the film two more times, each time from the perspective of another one of the main parties. First the father, then the mother and lastly the daughter. Each time the audience gets to observe the interactions between the three of them and what it means to each of them. It also allows the viewers to watch each person as they discover secrets about each other until they come to one pivotal point in time.
In this movie, the music portrays an important role. It is through music and dance that Sylvia finds a connection to the American children and high school into which she has been forced. Music allows Walter and Esther the opportunity to find common ground upon which they can build their new relationship. It also the love of music and dance that gives an estranged Walter the opportunity to get to know his daughter. While music serves as the catalyst, it is the rediscovery of love that truly forms their bonds.
Farewell Amor is an unrated festival film that has yet to find a distributor. Msangi has a fresh and intriguing debut with this film. Hopefully, if it keeps winning festival awards, Amor will find its own love and we will get to see more from its director.