I caught this film at the Dubai International Film Festival, so I just thought I would review it here. (spoilers!!!)
Good Morning Aman is about Aman, a young Somali immigrant in Rome. He grew up in the city’s immigrant projects, and is a streetwise type of guy, but is simultaneously naive and vulnerable in someways. He works washing cars in a used car-lot by day, and roams the streets at night, suffering from insomnia. One night, Aman meets the mysterious middle aged Italian man, Teodoro. At first, you cannot tell why Teodoro is interested in Aman. Is it for some type of homosexual relationship? Aman is broke and bored and keeps coming back to Teodoro because Teodoro gives him money. Will Aman lower himself by entering into an unwanted sexual relationship because he is so broke? Soon it becomes clear why mentally ill Teodoro has befriended Aman: He has a dark secret that he wishes to resolve through his relationship with Aman.
Aman’s is an untold Italian story; a black Somali Italian story. But it becomes a white story, too. It has to be a white story because the film makers are white. But it is a different kind of black and white story. Teodoro is a white man who is so horrible that he tries to redeem himself for viciously killing a black Senegalese teenager by befriending Aman and eventually making the black Somali youth his beneficiary. It is a sinister, guilt ridden, thing to do. It looks like Teodoro is breaking Italian racial barriers by befriending Aman, if not only due to their mutual loneliness. But then later, you see that the friendship is some type of attempt at absolving his heinous crime, and it becomes clear just how sickeningly racist Teodoro truly is. He is not a barrier breaker at all. At first it seems that Aman is willing to play the sycophant in this relationship to get cash. But the true user is Teodoro. In the end, Aman decides that he has had enough and doesn’t stick around to be exploited by Teodoro’s “friendship.”
I saw the story line as a comment on Italy’s (and perhaps any white former colonial country’s) relationship with African/Muslim/brown and black immigrants: hate, anti-immigrant sentiment, but also the need for the labor, the exploitation factor, the white guilt side by side with racism against the immigrants. I thought the film was racially ground breaking for that reason. It was also an astute twist on the white-Western film theme of absolving white guilt through exploiting blackness, which is most often used completely acritically.
I liked the energy of the movie, despite a few slow patches. The dialogue never seemed trite. One saw very clearly the shit that Aman and his community members dealt with on a daily basis.The actors were great, especially the actor who played the non-chalant Aman. I loved that issues of racism againt black immigrants in Italy were being brought out openly and unapologetically in the film. The film was entertaining as well as thought provoking.