by George Wolf
At the risk of limb outing, I’m guessing a little film that might restore your faith in human decency would not be unwelcome right now.
Supa Modo may center on a young girl with a terminal illness, but it will warm your heart in the sweetest way, spinning its tale of escapist fantasy, cold reality and the simple joy of the movies.
Nine year-old Jo (Stycie Waweru, wonderful) spends most of her days under the care of a Kenyan hospital, dreaming of flying like her favorite film superheroes. But after a distressing visit with the medical staff, Jo’s mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) decides her dying child should spend her remaining days in the comfort of home.
Jo’s sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia) encourages Jo’s superhero fantasies, and her neighbors unite to create situations where Jo can flash super powers and right wrongs in the village.
It’s a lovely “Make a Wish” scenario that is not uncommon, but director Likarion Wainaina and a team of writers deepen the humanity through simple contrast.
Kathryn does not support the indulgence of Jo’s imagination, clashing with Mwix and the villagers over what is best for her child. This push and pull keeps the film grounded when overt sentimentality offers a road more easily traveled.
And, naturally, good conflict makes a more satisfying resolution. Wainaina plays his hand skillfully, turning what could have been a lazy and cliched final shot into a moment full of the happiest tears.