Film Reviews

Review: ‘Mully’

Hot Docs 2016


Mully
(USA/Kenya, 81 min.)
Dir. Scott Haze
Programme: World Showcase (Toronto Premiere)

Mully offers a complicated character study of faith and self-sacrifice. This doc profiles Kenyan entrepreneur Charles Mully’s tumultuous life and career. The film features a respectful and easy-going interview with Mully as he relates his journey from childhood poverty in the streets to his escape as a successful businessperson through to an all-out rejection of his material wealth when a moment of divine clarity inspires him to help the needy. This doc offers no easy story of salvation, though, as the subject walks a long road to redemption.

For a film about a man who devotes his life to the charitable act of saving street kids, Mully shows how prejudice against the homeless exists even in the world’s most impoverished communities. Mully has, in fact, become a pariah in both his home and community. His devoted wife, already drained by fatigue from raising their eight children, loses the stability and security one needs for such a large family and then bears the burden of taking in dozens of new kids with little support. Mully’s own kids voice ample resentment towards their father’s goodwill, as they recall feelings of neglect. Elements of privilege pepper the stories of Mully’s children, but their voices lend complexity to their father’s portrait. The patriarch’s testimony veers towards the self-congratulatory, although he relates his experience with ample dramatic panache.

Director Haze accentuates the subject’s knack for storytelling by pairing Mully’s narrative with dramatic re-enactments of his rise as a businessperson and his work with the kids. These sequences are highly cinematic with their fluid camerawork and well-choreographed movements through the hallways and bunk beds of Mully’s crowded home. This earnest doc illustrates how a life of charity entails its own balance of risks and rewards.

Mully screens:
-Friday, May 6 at the Isabel Bader at 9:45 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.

Pat Mullen is POV’s Associate Online Editor, etc. He covers film at Cinemablographer.com, and has contributed to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, BeatRoute, Modern Times Review, and Documentary magazine and is a member of the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. You can reach him at @cinemablogrpher

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