Wùlu smartly explains its title at the outset – Wùlu is the final stage of tribal development, where a man is enlightened to a place in society. So what happens if you realise your role is to traffic cocaine?
This question is certainly fascinating – and any descent into criminality makes for cracking drama – sadly Wùlu doesn’t quite manage to ask or answer the question it sets out to. That said, although Wùlu isn’t the thoughtful thriller it’s aiming for, first-time director Daouda Coulibaly has crafted a moody crime drama that isn’t short on tension.
While Ibrahim Koma takes quiet stoicism a little too far in his portrayal of Ladji, he does well to find the darkness and sorrow behind a calm facade. Koma keeps a fine handle on all sides of Ladji, as he turns from nervous smuggler to calculating leader. Unfortunately none of the other characters fail to make much of an impression – but this is more due to an unassuming script than any failure on the cast’s part.
Director Daouda Coulibaly acquits himself well for his debut feature, drawing us into this murky underworld at a steady pace alongside Ladji – and expertly flips the switch when shit hits the fan and the consequences of this path become crystal clear. However the film gets in a muddle exploring both the grim reality of drug trafficking, and the fraught relationship between Ladji and his sister Aminata – and as the film dithers, Aminata gets lost in the shuffle.
While Wùlu isn’t all it could be, it does offer a compelling and frequently harrowing story of greed and loyalty in a well-realised criminal underworld. Sadly, while the conclusion takes some unexpected left turns, it fails to draw any larger point together about this world it so well portrays.
CAST: Ibrahim Koma, Inna Modja, Dembele Habib, Ndiaye Mariame
DIRECTOR: Daouda Coulibaly
WRITER: Daouda Coulibaly
SYNOPSIS: When he doesn’t get the promotion he expected, Ladji decides to contact Driss, a local drug dealer, who owes him a favour. Accompanied by his two best friends, Ladji embarks on a risky journey, transporting kilos of cocaine from Conakry to Bamako. Along the way he comes into contact with corrupt politicians and affiliates of al-Qaida.