Io Capitano
An Africa-to-Italy migration drama, most memorable for its seabound final act.

Io Capitano

Release Date: February 23, 2024
Runtime: 02:01
A Homeric fairy tale that tells the adventurous journey of two young boys, Seydou and Moussa, who leave Dakar to reach Europe.

Table of Contents

Two cousins from Dakar try to make the difficult journey to Italy in . Seydou () and Moussa () are two impoverished teenage cousins in Dakar, Senegal. Hoping to escape to a presumably better life, the two set out on the dangerous journey across Africa to Lybia, hoping to secure passage across the Mediterranean Sea into Italy.

Io Capitano Synopsis

Io Capitano is an immigration drama co-written and directed by Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone, inspired by actual stories of migrants' African routes to Europe. The film stars newcomers Seydou Sarr and Moustapha Fall as Senegalese teenagers trying to make the journey from Dakar to Sicily. Facing challenges such as having to fake passports, crossing the Sahara desert, and being sent to Lybian detention centres, Seydou and Moussa eventually make their way to Tripoli. However, it is there where Seydou is given his most daunting task, as he has to drive the boat carrying the migrants to Italy.

My Thoughts on Io Capitano

Matteo Garrone is a filmmaker who is probably best known for directing the 2015 horror-fantasy Tale of Tales and a 2019 live-action adaptation of Pinocchio, starring Roberto Benigni. His latest film Io Capitano is a very African-centric story and, despite the country being the final destination, you are left to wonder if an Italian director was the best person to hand such a tale.

For the most part, Io Capitano is portrayed as a heavy drama about the challenges of migrating from Africa to Europe, which includes paying off police officers, securing passage from shady figures, and being tortured in detention centres run by the Lybian mafia. However, the film also includes some flourishes with fantasy, such as Seydou imagining a woman who collapsed in the desert and began to fly or the mystical delivery of a message to Seydou's mother.

Probably the most notable element of the plot of Io Capitano, which also gives the reasoning for the film's title, is the final act, where Seydou, unable to pay for both himself and Moussa, is assigned to drive the boat that will get the cousins to Italy. After discovering the number of passengers that will be on the boat, Seydou begins to worry about being in charge of so many lives. However, Io Capitano still ends up concluding on an optimistic note, despite all the hardships the young protagonists go through.

Trailer for Io Capitano

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.