What movie was that...?

13 September 2012

The Ambassador

directed by Mads Brügger

Mads Brügger is perhaps my favorite kind of documentarian: cocksure, brazen, a person so determined to uncover truth that he hardly has the time to thinly veil his arrogance. In short, Brügger is like Lars Von Trier (whose company Zentropa produces Brügger’s works, btw). In The Red Chapel, Brügger guises himself as a comedy troupe manager and Kim Jong Il sympathizer to visit North Korea in an attempt to undermine a culture forged by fear and intolerance. In The Ambassador, Brügger rocks a faux diplomat personae (that consists mostly of awesomely outrageous outfits a Rocky & Bullwinkle villain might wear) as he ventures to Central Africa posing as a Liberian consul, attempting to discover the underworld of treachery known to us Westerners as the blood diamond trade. Once in the CAR (Central African Republic), Brügger uses falsified papers obtained from Willem the pissed off Dutchman (see the comments section of my review of The Red Chapel for clarification) to gain access to a world populated by unscrupulous and corrupt opportunists ranging from crooked diamond miners all the way up to entire political bodies who, at every turn, seem either apathetic to their country’s misery or menacingly determined to keep Africa’s infrastructure in a shambles. As Brügger’s ruse of building a match factory drags him deeper and deeper into dangerous territory, his quest to obtain genuine conflict diamonds is eclipsed by a sense of moral disorientation. And as he discovers that there is, in fact, no honor among thieves, he begins to lose sight of his original goal. This is where film begins to unravel as well, leaving us with a sense of losing our grip on the eel’s neck. Ultimately, The Ambassador is able to shine a very small light on a very large problem, but it cannot reveal the wizard of Oz, so to speak (a promise Brügger seemed to imply in his narration). Not as satisfying as I had hoped, but a wild and worthy ride nonetheless, Mads Brügger shows once again that he is a force to be reckoned with and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

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