Waiting for Happiness

“Waiting for Happiness” a 2002 Mauritanian movie directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. The movie has no linear story structure, its a series of shots all ultimately forming some kind of story. There is a student Abdallah (Mohamad Mahmood Ould Mohamed) who has returned from abroad on a holiday perhaps but he is most of time inside his house, not going out, very introverted, not speaking to people, not wearing the traditional dress and not knowing the Hassanya language.

Then there is a father son duo of Maata (Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid) and his son Khatra (Khatra Ould Abder Kader), on whom lot of time in the movie is spent. Maata is an electrician and Khatra is learning the ropes from him. Then there is a mother daughter duo where the mother is playing a string instrument and teaching music to the daughter. The music and singing are both very good.

Abdallah is interested in a local girl who had a kid from somebody and the kid died, but he is unable to form words to speak to the girl. The movie meanders slowly in the harsh desert landscape of the country, not much happening on a daily basis. The film is shot near a coast so there are ample shots of the ocean, perhaps the Atlantic Ocean because Mauritania is on the west coast of Africa. There is also a shot of a train passing through the desert and people scrambling to board the train through the windows.

The direction is quite tight knit despite the lack of a story and so is the camera work and cinematography. The kid Khatra is the star of the film though Maata and Abdallah have also done useful roles. Its a movie without a beginning and without an end.

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