Neptune Frost (2021) is a unique film that uses an interesting allegory and incredible music to reflect on the many issues of society, from visionaries Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman. It is a great example of how art and problem-solving can take a simple setting with minimal props and make an artistic vision so realized, that it is undeniable. While it is possible that it may not click with some, viewers who are interested in being challenged and forced to ponder the questions the film is asking will take great interest in this unique genre picture.
I usually attempt to write my own synopsis of the film, but I think with this one, it is best to use the provided synopsis. “The film takes place in the hilltops of Burundi, where a group of escaped coltan miners forms an anti-colonialist computer hacker collective. From their camp in an otherworldly e-waste dump, they attempt a takeover of the authoritarian regime exploiting the region’s natural resources – and its people. When an intersex runaway, Neptune (Cheryl Isheja/Elvis Ngabo), and an escaped coltan miner, Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), find each other through cosmic forces, their connection sparks glitches within the greater divine circuitry. Set between states of being –past and present, dream and waking life, colonized and free, male and female, memory and prescience.” Yeah, there isn’t much I could imagine saying to explain it better than that.
The costume design of the film is one of the elements that really stood out to me. The simplicity and yet the tech pieces really make for some compelling looks. Circuitry lines the faces of the many actors who find themselves in this e-waste dump. Matalusa sports a jacket made of keyboard pieces that just look incredible. This film made me think of the Matrix if the Wachowskis had no budget but wanted to make sure we understood when the characters were in the virtual world. The metaphor here is obvious in the best way possible. Rather than showing hackers sitting on a computer, we are seeing the “inside” the computer.
The music, which is often used as a foundation of the film’s many subjects of discussion, truly shines. There were several songs that clicked with my sensibility, as my musical tastes have changed quite a bit over the last few years. One that really stood out was F*** Mr. Google, where that phrase holds profound meaning as the coltan miners raise their middle fingers in defiance of their situation.
Neptune Frost came highly recommended to me, and I’m glad to pass that message forward. I found a lot to take away from this film. It is a total vibe, much more concerned with its themes and messages rather than any specific story, while still giving us characters who portray their lives in a way that allows connections to be made. The film straddles traditional narrative with an avant-garde approach in a way that feels totally original. Neptune Frost earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.