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‘In His Shadow’ is an underwhelming and disappointing drama

Graphic by Ethan Nelson

Released on Netflix on March 17, Marc Fouchard’s thriller movie “In His Shadow, mismanages its focus by spending too much time on scenes that don’t drive the plot and ultimately failed to make an impact on viewers.

This drama focuses on brothers Adama (Alassane Diong) and Ibrahim (Kaaris) as they embark on different paths following the death of their father in the modern-day slums of France. One becomes a gangster while the other pursues a music career. 

The overarching conflict is obscured by an odd sequence of events that involves a supposed witch who was previously presented as a superstitious detriment to Adama and Ibrahim’s mother. The witch introduces an interesting twist, but unfortunately, it neither produces new commentary on the destructive nature of power and revenge nor does it create enough of a gripping tragedy.

Overall, “In His Shadow” suffers greatly from the execution of its plot and characters who all end up left without any real development. Perhaps some of the writing could be misinterpreted due to translation issues and cultural differences.

The film features drawn-out scenes that create lasting disinterest. For example, there is a part in the movie when the family home is invaded and Adama’s dog dies. The scene lingers on him cleaning the dogs’ wounds; this is done to instill sadness, but it becomes too depressing.

Prior to this moment, the dog only serves as a background element with not a lot of emotional connection. The home invasion was meant to be a plot element for the film’s main conflict, but it comes off as unearned and just another scene that recaps plot points that are already heavily addressed. At that point, the decision feels like an attempt to reorient the audience’s attention to the climax.

Not to mention that nothing can excuse the breakneck pace of the movie that skips past any character arc or unique execution of character growth. The first 20 minutes are just narration and exposition that establish the characters’ backgrounds without creating any real interest.

Ibrahim goes from a young and naïve boy to a furious and stubborn one-note gangster whose downfall is brushed aside. All he does throughout the film is act cartoonishly menacing without any charm or relatable reason for destroying his family.

Despite all of these faults, the movie does manage to put together well-produced lighting and cinematography that adds up nicely. With Adama’s blindness, there are well-executed moments that highlight the disability and make for interesting sequences.

Alassane Diong’s performance in the film is a standout, especially in contrasting situations that convey a range of emotions. Adama’s struggles feel real and can be sympathized with.

The ending is somewhat realistic but the message doesn’t translate clearly. In the end, the consequences of the conflict’s resolution occur too quickly to show its effects. “In His Shadow” suffers from many missteps and the lead actor’s performance and decent production aren’t enough to be its saving grace.

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