Last night, I saw Viva Riva! at the West End Cinema at 2301 M Street, NW DC. The film is about a young man named Riva from The Republic of the Congo, where the movie was filmed, who returns home after a long stay in Angola with lots of money and confidence to match. Riva has seemingly made his tiny fortune from the stealing and selling of fuel, the current object of desire, demonstrated by scores of gasless cars scattered about the town of Kinshasa. Whoever has fuel is king, and everyone wants to be king.
But Riva doesn’t just want fuel, he wants Nora, the girlfriend of the notorious town gangster, Azor. Azor wants fuel too, and so does everyone else. Riva’s got fuel. So everyone really wants Riva.
No, it’s not cocaine or heroin, but it’s a good plot, no? Greed is greed. And I think that’s what made me see this film, and why others mistakenly dub it the “African Scarface“. Scarface it is not. However, I’m willing to bet it’s the closest thing to Scarface The Republic of the Congo’s got to offer.
See the gangster above, in the white sportscoat? He reminded me of Kadeem Hardison pretending to be a gangster. Which is silly, right? It was.
In the film, people would reguarly dine and dance (and pee) on the dirt, right outside of their homes but on special nights, they’d go out to Club Sai Sai, which resembles a thriving DC nightclub on a Friday night. How can those two settings exist in the same town? The director, Djo Munga, wanted viewers to see how the Congo really lives and breathes.
The film also stars French film actress Manie Malone, who looks just like Solange Knowles. I couldn’t help thinking that every time I looked at her.
Viva Riva! contains a gratuitious amount of sex. Ever see a woman get the business behind an iron-barred window? You will, in Viva Riva!. In the film, the women of Congo weren’t dressed like this:
They were dressed like this:
This line is used in the movie, “Money is like poison. In the end, it always kills you.” Is that true? Or is it true in the Congo? Maybe Riva knew the answer, and his fate, from the very beginning.
I have mixed feelings about Viva Riva! Kinda the way I do about Scarface, only because of what happens at the end–and I think that Riva had more integrity than Tony Montana.
I saw this film at the only theater showing it, the West End Cinema, right near the corner of M and 23rd Streets, Northwest. It was a really cute place. Very orange.
The theater was complete with an 80-inch screen and about 75 seats. Here is my view from the third row from the back.