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Home > Movies > Ezra


(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: No Rating
  • Director: Newton I. Aduaka   Cast: Mamoudo Turay Kamar, Mariame N'Diaye
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
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Film Forum

Release Date

Feb 13, 2008

Release Notes



Stark and pitiless, Ezra has the makings of a different sort of zombie movie. It’s about a 7-year-old boy in Sierra Leone (the country isn’t named but is clearly the inspiration) who’s kidnapped by the rebel army, abused, coddled, brainwashed, plied with amphetamines, and turned loose on remote villages, where he dutifully slaughters men, women, and children. Newton I. Aduaka’s film leaps back and forth in time between Ezra’s army life and a hearing before the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” in which the chief witness against him is his sister (Mariame N’Diaye), whose tongue was hacked out by another boy soldier.

The opening primes you to expect one atrocity after another, but half an hour in, Ezra takes a sharp turn in the direction of compassionate humanism. The title character (Mamoudu Turay Kamara) isn’t a glassy-eyed monster—so what is he? A boy, mainly, who has truly come to believe that the government in power has plundered his country, that in war, people die. Dependent on ruthless, greedy men, he accepts that it’s permissible to cut off the hand that would vote for the enemy régime. But when Ezra encounters his mutilated sister and learns his parents were murdered, he recoils, rages, begs to be allowed to take revenge on their killers. He doesn’t remember that he was on the scene the night they died.

The story is hell to follow—the flashbacks aren’t in chronological order—and the nonacting variable. The tatty budget shows. But there are extraordinary moments in the rebel camp, in which the filmmaking becomes simpler as the psychology grows more complicated, as the boys (and girls) lean on one another and grope their way toward a kind of normalcy. Ezra’s moral awakening opens him up to the scale of the tragedy and brings pain instead of healing. Truth? Reconciliation? Not in this world.

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