Hyenas

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Hyenas

A dark comedy from Senegal, Hyenas is set in a drought- and poverty-stricken village in which life centers around the general store/pub of an indulgent shopkeeper. All this is upset when, after a 30-year absence, a former resident returns, wealthy and ready to offer the town an exorbitant amount of cash in exchange for the death of the lover who jilted her in her youth—a former lover who happens to be the beloved shopkeeper. It doesn't take long for the prospect of money to bring out the worst in nearly everyone, and the film, by director Dijibril Diop Mambéty, more or less views this as the natural course of things. Though the country of origin may seem unfamiliar, the characters will be recognizable, if a bit two-dimensional; once the promise of cash is made, everyone pretty much starts acting unrelentingly like the human equivalents of the title animals. Only Mansour Diouf as the shopkeeper brings gravity to his character, lending an appropriate sense of tragedy to the inevitable conclusion; he makes what could have been merely a cynical, obvious satire something more.

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