The Agronomist Reviews
Director Jonathan Demme is not typically known for documentary filmmaking, but [i]The Agronomist[/i] is an impressive venture into the genre. It tells the story of Jean Dominique, a journalist and human rights activist in Haiti.
Last year, Demme also directed the mainstream quasi-hit [i]The Manchurian Candidate[/i]. As far as remakes go, I guess it was successful. Granted I haven't seen the original, but I really did like Demme's retelling (even though it has Denzel in it - every fake movie-lover's favorite actor).
I'd feel like I was giving too much away to say anything else about [i]The Agronomist[/i]. The film is the story of his life, so if you want to hear that, then rent the film.
So having gotten the "I wasn't really paying attention" disclaimer out of the way, I'll proceed to review the movie. It's a documentary about a Haitian political activist named Jean Dominique who was assassinated in 2000. Dominique founded an independent radio station in 1968 which broadcast in the peasant language of Creole and repeatedly incurred the wrath of the government.
Before seeing this film, I knew almost nothing about Haiti. After seeing it, I still know almost nothing about Haiti. I think that's part of the problem. The film seems to presuppose a basic knowledge of the subject, which I don't have.
To me, the movie was a whirlwind of facts about dictators and coups and exiles, interspersed with interviews with the very animated Dominique and his wife, Michele Montas. Dominique's passion was evident, as was his popularity with the masses. The most moving footage in the film captures a crowd of about 60,000 who spontaneously gathered at the airport for his first return from exile in 1986.
I'm going to give this film the benefit of the doubt and assume I'd have found it more engrossing if I was more into it from the beginning. In any case, it has a good soundtrack.