A Stray: The tale of one man, a persistent dog and a transforming crisis of faith

(image via IMP Awards)
(image via IMP Awards)


Musa Syeed’s film A Stray follows Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman), a Somali refugee living in Minneapolis with no place to go. His mom has kicked him out and his friends are tired of his headstrong ways. As a last resort, he moves into the mosque, and surprisingly, God answers his prayers. He quickly lands a good job, devout friends, and a newfound faith, but things go south when Adan nearly hits a stray dog on the job and is forced to take it in for a night. Soon, Adan’s faith will be tested and his only friend in sight is a stray dog. (synopsis (c) IndieWire)

Life rarely works out the way any of us expect it to when we’re kids.

Not long after reaching adulthood, it becomes patently clear that a gulf exists between our aspirations and the reality of life, and it’s how we address this sometimes substantial disconnect that determines how successful our life will become, or at least how well we will handle it.

Adan is a man staring not so much across a gulf as a gaping, endlessly deep chasm, patently unable, or so he, and his friends and family believe, to come even remotely close to bridging it.

The reality is Adan simply wants to feel like his life has value and he belongs, a not uncommon aspiration and one that the film, using the bonding between man and dog, executes quite effectively, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“Syeed never resorts to cutesy reaction shots to anthropomorphize the dog, never lingers long enough to make a viewer feel manipulated by its obvious cuteness. And at the other end of the spectrum, he doesn’t dwell on the misfortune of his human protagonist. The film matter-of-factly observes that the man is always looking for a place he can shut his eyes for a few minutes, is often hungry and doesn’t seem to know where to turn. But the tone is never one of despair.”

It’s likely that due to its limited theatrical release that A Stray won’t be seen by as many people as need to see it or could benefit from being exposed to it, which is a pity because films this honest, and yet hopeful about the human condition, don’t come along as often as people, struggling with the great divide between hope and reality, really need.

A Stray premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival in March this year.


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