Me and My White Guy
S. Pierre Yameogo / Burkina Faso/France / 2003
Reverse racial comedies which pay homage to Rear Window are precisely what we need more of, especially one made with the obvious quality and affinity for light comedy as director S. Pierre Yameogo holds. Mamadi (Serge Bayala), an African postgraduate student studying in Paris, is forced to take on an evening job as a car park attendant to pay the rent. As he copes with writing his thesis he’s introduced to the underworld which inhabits the car park after hours. Stumbling across a package of money and drugs left behind in a raid, Mamadi splits the money with Franck (the ‘white’ guy - who works the day shift). When the dealers give chase, they flee to Mamadi’s home in Burkina Faso.
‘Me and my white guy’ is a fun film of comparison which carries more than a few harsh truths. Sprightly scored, the film briskly launches Mamadi’s financial dilemma and ensconces him in the car park which catalyses the plot. Many issues are deftly handled behind a broad comedic veil which ranges from nobody in Paris being able to remember Mamadi’s name, to the oddball car park customers, to the endless similarities between the lead’s families. Both are the affable men you might expect to find in buddy comedy, with more than enough wit to survive at least two continents.
A minor gripe for a film this fun is the poor ratio of the African to European settings. Roughly two-thirds of the film takes place in Paris and the remaining third is set in Ouagadougou, which is a shame because the title hints at discomfort and (perhaps) an element of servitude for the white guy. True it’s not all roses and spending hard western currency for Franck in the exploited world, but the conclusion goes little beyond showing ‘this is how it is’ before leaving the pair to make the best of it. This is no doubt a consequence of the plot device and the partial failure of the film to go anywhere in particular when it reaches Africa and the big ‘issues’. In comparison Paris is much more ambiguous and better realised.
Anyhow, ‘Me and My White Guy’ comes highly recommended.