Is Thomas Ngijol The Next Omar Sy? Watch Trailer For His New Comedy Feature 'Fastlife'
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Is Thomas Ngijol The Next Omar Sy? Watch Trailer For His New Comedy Feature 'Fastlife'

nullOf course there’s only one Omar Sy, and one Thomas Ngijol. I’m simply using popular (although reductive) comparitive industry parlance.

Thomas Ngijol may just be the next Omar Sy – as in a French male actor/comedian of African descent, who finds great success in a film that is a hit in his homeland, and eventually becomes a global phenomenon, forcing Hollywood to take notice, as he transplants his family from France, to the bright lights of Los Angeles, to capitalize on that interest/curiosity, while still, of course, enjoying a healthy career back home, in France. 

Readers of this blog will remember the French time travel/slavery comedy (Case Départ) that Monsieur Ngijol co-wrote and co-starred in (alongside Fabrice Eboué) – a movie that dared to tackle the gravity of slavery via comedy and some sci-fi elements, which was a box office hit in France, and which caused a bit of a stir outside of France, particularly here in the USA, right here on this blog, where many didn’t quite take to the idea of slavery as anything to laugh about.

Keep in mind that this was before Django Unchained seemingly kicked off what I’ve fondly come to refer to as “slave movie fever.” 

I don’t have any confirmation of whether Case Départ ever was officially released in the USA. Although you can buy a region 2 DVD/Blu-ray disk if you’re interested in checking it out. You’ll also find it on YouTube most likely, but it may not be English-subtitled.

Ngijol and Eboué then returned earlier this year, over 2 years later, with another movie that seemingly tackles weighty subject matter with comedy.

Titled Le Crocodile du Botswanga (The Botswanga Crocodile), it starred Eboué and Ngijol, and followed a young talented French football player, discovered as a teenager by a small-time agent (played by Fabrice Eboué), who takes him under his wing. But first, the player has to take his dead mother’s ashes home to her village in Botswanga, as she requested (likely a play on Botswana, the landlocked country located in Southern Africa). At the same time, his ancestry earns him an invitation from the Botswangan president (played by Thomas Ngijol), a football enthusiast who has just taken power of the fictional country after a military coup. Accompanied by his agent, the player sets off to the country of his ancestors for the first time in his life, to pay homage to his mother as well as to be decorated by the President who, despite his humanistic speeches, rapidly turns out to be a megalomaniac, paranoid dictator.

Naturally, hijinx and hilarity ensue, with maybe some life lessons along the way, tackling topical socio-political issues.

The film (budgeted at around $10 million) was released in France, on February 12, 2014, and, from what my research tells me, was also a box office hit, making it 2 in-a-row for Ngijol and Eboué. Again, it’s not a film that’s been released in the USA either. But, as I’ve noted previously, these two actor/writers (Eboué and Ngijol) seem to be carving out a piece of the cinema pie in France, for themselves, with their last film, Case Départ, faring quite well at the box office, in the country, which likely made it easier to get the next film (Le Crocodile du Botswanga) financed and produced. They are stars in France, as I understand, so it may be only a matter of time before Hollywood comes calling, and they join their fellow Frenchman, Omar Sy, in Los Angeles. Assuming of course that they are even interested. I shouldn’t be so presumptuous. 

But indulge me… maybe this will be the film that serves as the catapult.

Titled Fastlife, it’s a new comedy feature, co-written and directed by Thomas Ngijol (making him a triple threat), which is set for release in French theaters on July 16, his second feature film released theatrically in the country just 6 months into the year. 

This one Ngijol seemingly did without his usual partner Eboué, who isn’t listed anywhere in the credits (whether in front of, or behind the camera).

Here’s the synopsis for Fastlife (which I had to translate via Google, given that I couldn’t find an English-language version of it, so some of it might be, ahem, lost in translation): 

Go farther, faster, to shine in the eyes of others: this is the motto of Franklin.

Milf, megalomaniac obsessed with the idea of  fame at any price, Franklin must choose between growing up and becoming a man, or continue living the Fastlife. 

Ngijol also stars in it obviously, as well as directed from a screenplay that he co-wrote with Mohamed Issolah.

Karole Rocher, Julien Boisselier and Olivier Marchal all round out the starring cast.

Of course, I have no idea if this will indeed be the film that makes Ngijol an international star, the way Intouchables did for Omar Sy. And, again, I’m assuming that he even wants that kind of success, and is interested in a Hollywood career. He may be content exactly as he is.

It would be nice, however, if all 3 of the above films are picked up by an American distributor, so that we can check them out.

In the meantime, here’s the trailer for Ngijol’s latest, Fastlife, which, as you’d probably guess, isn’t subtitled.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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