Country: Kenya / Germany
Movie Review: “Nairobi Half Life”, Kenya’s first official entry for foreign-language film Oscar, presents us the dangers faced by young Mwas (Joseph Wairimu), who decides to leave his poor village to try his luck as an actor in Nairobi, by joining a street company that performed in his town. However, the adventure becomes turbulent, since Mwas is robbed at his arrival and then arrested for something he hasn’t done. Our sympathetic hero, always with a smile in his face, will manage to make some friends and ask for help, forcibly becoming a thief and gangster in order to survive in a merciful city ruled by corruption, prostitution, and crime. Whether some diverting episodes tried to ease the harshness of the story, like the way Mwas dealt with prostitutes, others simply imply that you need some madness (natural or fake) to keep going. Living in two incompatible worlds, he will try his best to get out of crime and stick to acting, which is his true passion. The consistent script is depicted with the help of several images where chaos and savagery reign, giving the precise idea of the overwhelming atmosphere lived. I found the cinematography very appealing, an aspect that is not always well achieved when it comes to African cinema. Sometimes disgustful, sometimes gritty, “Nairobi Half Life” loses some strength in its final third but succeeds in capturing the city vibes, giving us at the same time the personal story of a young man who refuses to give up his dreams.