Something Necessary is a drama set around the politically instigated violence that erupted after the 2007 election results were announced. Anne is battling the aftermath of the life shattering events, including caring for her comatose son. She puts everything into her burned down farm, so her son can come to a fully restored home. Joseph is an awkward teenager who leaves a gang out of remorse for what he did, setting them on an epic collision course. Joseph and Anne’s paths cross on the bumpy road to moving on.
The film opens flashing back to the post-election violence, close-ups on tightly held machetes and then revealing large groups of young men, running, seemingly unstoppable, destroying anything and anyone in their path. The narrative really begins when Anne wakes up at the hospital, and wheels herself to her comatose son’s bed, setting the meditative pace of the film. From sisters bickering in Kikuyu, lovers whispering in Kalenjin, to Mother and son switching effortlessly from English to Kiswahili in a single exchange, it’s a wonderful treat to hear so many languages in one film.
Characterization in the film is quite uniquely fluid. They each glide between protagonist and antagonist, in keeping with the messy, unpredictable way that real life is. It’s a great way to deal with telling a story based on true events. The story structure is quite disciplined, linear, with flashbacks used sparingly and effectively, a firm foundation for the film to play out.
Susan Wanjiru (Anne) and Walter Lagat (Joseph)’s performances are haunting. Their progression from traumatized and hollow to fully functioning, loving people is an incredible journey to behold.
The film is shot widescreen using mostly a shallow lens, creating stillness in the beautiful country farm that belies the horrific acts that took place there. The framing succeeds in creating space evoking distance and loneliness, or closing in on the intimate brutality of violent acts. To the Director and Editor’s credit, there was no ounce of fat. Every piece of footage that ended up on screen was a piece of the puzzle. I was engrossed from start to finish.