The Agronomist

The Agronomist (USA, director Jonathan Demme): This is going to be hard to rate. The subject of the film, Haitian radio journalist and activist Jean Dominique, was a firebrand and a voice for democracy until his assassination in 2000. The film, born out of Demme’s long friendship with Dominique, is a stirring tribute to the man and his wife, journalist Michèle Montas. However, it is clear that most of the footage is more like a collection of Demme’s home movies than a professionally-produced film. Demme interviewed Dominique many times over the course of more than ten years, and it’s not always clear when particular conversations are taking place. To make things worse, some of the editing is awkward and even gimmicky at times, and the overlaid text graphics are just plain ugly. If I were to rate the story of Jean Dominique, I’d give it a 10 (which was why it was a no-brainer to stand when Michèle Montas came to the stage). Unfortunately, Demme’s film is a less-than-inspiring piece of work about an incredibly inspiring man.


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