Something Necessary‘s depiction of the election that took place in 2007 in Kenya, and the civil unrest that followed, is depressing watch. Lost and hungry young males spin out of control and have resorted to violence. Succumbing to peer pressure they burn down houses and loot businesses. Males not wanting to join in with the violence struggle to find a source of income elsewhere.

Joseph (Qdamah Kipchumba) is one of these males who participated in the burning of a house but has been scarred by it. Complicating matters further is that he is hounded by those who also committed crimes that consider him to be a rat. His journey leads him to an isolated farm owned by Anne (Susan Wanjiru). With her own problems to deal with, Anne goes through several phases of grief and anger after parts of her house are burnt down. She is also struggling with the accusations of conducting a hideous act by her family. It does not help matters that Anne’s farm is in ruins and she chooses to remain their while hoping to one day rebuild both it and her house. Together Joseph and Anne must figure out how to confront the pain of the past if they each hope to find the strength to move forward.

The chief problem with Something Necessary is it doesn’t depict any of the violence, only the aftermath. Beginning with a news clip of Kenyans sharpening a knife, it is odd that many of the extreme problems aren’t addressed in the film. Also disappointing is that, apart from a depiction of the aftermath of the election, we don’t learn anything about it the politics that sparked so much anger. This ultimately makes for a somewhat confusing film that does not quite reach its potential.

Tuesday, March 12, 6:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Something Necessary is screening as part of the Goethe Films: One Fine Day – Africa Now retrospective.