Reading the logline for Atlantics, which premiered at Cannes on Thursday afternoon, I expected it to be the kind of film I couldn’t wear mascara to (and I didn’t). The debut feature by Mati Diop — the first black female director ever to premiere a film at Cannes — Atlantics sounded like a heart-wrenchingly tragic love story, following Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) and Souleiman (Ibrahima Traore), two star-crossed teenagers living in a suburb of Dakar. All I knew going in was that Ada was “promised to another man” and Souleiman would “leave the country by sea in hope of a better future.” I went in ready to cry Titanic-level tears.
But instead, I left the screening feeling genuinely stunned by the film’s strange, surreal turns. Though the film is indeed deeply sad, it’s also something of a fever dream — a freaky, grim trip into the uncanny valley with both sociopolitical and kinda sexy (!) implications. I also felt thrilled for Diop, who had the sort of premiere most filmmakers only dream of: She received a standing ovation and was mobbed on the way out of the theater, flanked by her fabulous cast and mentor Claire Denis.
Walking out of the Palais, watching the electrified response, I couldn’t stop staring at Diop and her cast’s wildly glamorous outfits: I’m talking glitter, dramatic thigh slits, bright-blue suits, color blocking, vibrant yellow footwear, and at least one incredibly chic pantsuit (worn by Diop, of course). A representative for the cast told us that Diop’s suit comes courtesy of designer Nicolas Lecourt Mansion, while the rest of the Atlantics actors wore custom outfits. Behold: