Disco Boy - the post-colonial dreamscape

Disco Boy is a film that deals with a wide number of topics in a short span. A conradian dream about post-colonial identities, it is one of the biggest revelations of this year's Berlinale.

A french-german co-production directed by a debutant italian filmmaker is in itself multifaceted as its story. Giacomo Abruzzese directs Franz Rogowski in the role of a belarus emigrant who joins the french légion étrangère to obtain citizenship. Disco Boy is definitely not to be described as a simple drama about migrations. Its story reminds of the clash between Europe and colonial Africa featured in Joseph Conrad's novels, such as Heart of Darkness, yet the style, the surreal sense of cohesion and meaning conveyed in the most unlikely manners, makes Disco Boy rather feel like Conrad on acid. Between shifting storylines that eventually intertwine, shifting tones, from the most average european realist cinema to the most stylish neon-craze that reminds of Nicholas Winding Refn's films.

Identity is central to the film, devoid of the most typical politicised declamation, played rather as an artistic-narrative escamotage, as a study of doubles and opposite roles that aims to describe the multiple reality of the western-Europe-dependent portion of the world. In this sense, Disco Boy is a post-colonial work. Despite directed by an european, it focuses on the lasting effects that colonialism still has nowadays, the presence of the western multinational companies acting in no different way to how the european nations did directly in the past. Even with such a loaded geopolitical commentary, viewing Disco Boy does not feel declamatory or ideological in nature. The protagonist's journey has something metaphysical, aethereal to itself, rather than being socially grounded.

Disco is the perfect blend between a dense artistic form and an equally deep meditation on society, and one of the most unique debuts in terms of its intentions.


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