New American Cinema | 2017 | 92 minutes
Stranger Says: A fiercely driven Nigerian American Wall Streeter (Aml Ameen) must figure out who he really is when the tectonic plates of his very different personal and professional lives begin grinding together. Writer/director Anthony Onah’s debut manages the difficult trick of somehow remaining sympathetic to its stubborn, Adderall-popping protagonist without condoning his increasingly untethered behavior. (The scenes of him with his immigrant parents, especially, have a real watch-through-your-hands quality.) Smart, well-paced, and a compelling character study, particularly when everything starts to crumble. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Says:Seyi Ogunde (Aml Ameen, Sense8) is a man of two worlds, and something of a stranger to both. A 24-year-old first-generation Nigerian-American, he is the only black junior financier at Wall Street firm Brown Harmon, having to work Adderall-infused overtime hours just to be noticed. Back in Hackensack, New Jersey, he is trying to hold his immigrant family together, with most of his earnings going to his stroke-addled father’s medical bills and his emotional bandwidth to keeping one of his father’s shameful secrets. Just when his life starts looking up upon meeting Liz (Lucy Griffiths, Preacher), a white woman who has just returned from a Peace Corps stint in Cameroon, rumors of impending layoffs send his work and family lives into disarray. As he and his prescription-drug dependency spin out of control, Seyi considers sharing some insider trading tips―information muttered to him in passing at a booze-and-cocaine-fueled stockbroker party―in an attempt to keep his job, a decision as desperate as it is illegal. Making his feature debut, writer/director Anthony Onah paints a unique portrait of New York life, of a man trapped between generations and loyalties, featuring powerhouse performances from Souléymane Sy Savané (Goodbye Solo) and Michael Hyatt (The Wire) as his parents.
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