July 30th, 2015 | Film | 0 Comments
Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It is a loose Tuareg remake of Purple Rain set in Nigeria. It follows guitarist Mdou Moctar as he arrives in the town of Agadez and quickly becomes a local celebrity musician. The girls in town are happy to have him there, but some of the rival musicians are less thrilled. Moctar also has to hide his guitar playing from his strict father, who believes all guitarists are crooks, drug addicts and/or alcoholics.
Moctar’s purple guitar, motorcycle and outfit, and some of the film’s plot, points are the only ties Rain… has to Prince‘s movie. Most importantly, the music in the film is all Moctar’s. I’d never heard any of it before walking into the Museum for the Moving Image cinema – where it was playing as part of the Rural Route Festival – but it didn’t matter. Once Moctar and his band lock into that groove, it pulls you in like quicksand.
Unlike Prince and the original Purple Rain, this Rain… is more than just a vehicle for Moctar’s music. At least for many Western viewers, it’s also an incredible snapshot of the day to day lives of Northern Nigerians and their culture. Watching the subtly different ways in which people interacted was interesting, but perhaps most striking was the role that cell phones occupied in these peoples’ culture. Musicians will record music onto crappy old Motorola and Nokia phones (that Westerners haven’t seen since 2006), and despite the low quality, these cheap recordings will be circulated and may even become DIY hits. So by the time Moctar’s character starts playing shows in Agadez, many are already familiar with his music.
The depiction of African cellphone music culture, along with the threadbare setting of Agadez and the film’s modest production values, gives Rain… a quaintness that’s often charming, funny and touching. In many ways, despite the film’s apparent lack of a budget, it’s actually better, or at least more interesting than the original Purple Rain because it feels so quaint and so foreign. Of course, to say the music is better than Prince‘s might be a stretch, but it’s definitely damn good. Especially the song “Adounia” (which you can hear below), with its principle lyric that translates to “Life is like a chameleon changing color between the trees.”