That it took ten minutes to realize that Félicité wasn’t a documentary was itself a miracle, as the camera wound sinuously through a sparsely populated dance floor in a tottering nightclub, picking up conversations that alternated between rape and romance. And the next 50 minutes — spent following the titular nightclub singer (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, superb in a physically demanding role) as she hits up friend and enemy alike for cash to pay for her son’s unexpected and urgent operation — had the making of a strong genre picture. Think High Noon set in Kinshasa and backed by a Congolese beat. A natural, unforced air surrounded the relationship of Félicité and Tabu (Papi Mpaka), the neighborhood handyman determined to improve her life. But instead of focusing on her strength, director and co-writer Alain Gomis strayed in the direction of a grayscale fantasy sequence that ran throughout the picture. Let’s call the hollow, unfulfilled arthouse dabbling that comprised the film’s second half regrettable at best. (2017) — Scott Marks
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