I slipped under the wire to see Viva Riva! [NYT review] during its limited run at E Street Cinema in DC last week, out of immense curiosity about the first film to come out of the DRC in several decades. It turned out to be both tightly plotted and disturbing – an eerie portrait of a society where the state monopoly on violence has almost completely broken down, and where the promise of money in sufficient amounts can induce almost anyone to betrayal. The constellation of gangsters, army officials, sex workers, priests, street children and bystanders who are drawn into interaction with each other around the central character of Riva, an audacious gasoline smuggler, is well-drawn, and watching their various twisting plotlines slowly converge on the same place was one of the central pleasures of the film. Along the way, there’s some ridiculous sex, quite a lot of alcohol, many reversals of fortune, and some apt commentary on the old “Kin la (pou)belle” saw. The final scene is pitch perfect, as well. Check out the trailer here.