More than just a modern retelling of the classic immigrant story, Takeshi Fukunaga's Out of My Hand is a film of great humanity, detailing the exploits of its main protagonist, Cisco, capturing his perseverance, doubt, pain, and hope that encompass his day-to-day existence. A native of Liberia, Cisco lives a quiet, hard life as a rubber plantation worker, slaving long hours in the forest, extracting the latex from the early hours of the morning until dusk. When a workers' strike emerges over insignificant wages and long hours, Cisco finds himself questioning his current situation for the first time in a long time, opting to risk everything for the promise of a better life in New York City. On his arrival in New York, Cisco befriends various members of NYC's small Liberian community, but when he meets the mysterious Jacob, demons from Cisco's past life in Liberia begin to emerge. Out of My Hand opens in the forests of Nigeria, following Cisco in his day-to-day duties as a rubber farmer. Featuring intricate cinematography, the film captures the wear-and-tear of Cisco's livelihood - the dirty hands, callused feet, and generally taxing workload he partakes in on a day-to-day basis. Out of My Hand is a film that is weary of the immigration dream, showing the tough conditions of Cisco's life in Nigeria while simultaneously questioning whether life in another country, notably America, would be any better. The film argues that poverty is prevalent everywhere, capturing how this type of desperation can lead to an individuals self-manufactured opportunity for success they see in migration. Cisco is such a character, but what makes him different is the fact that he himself knows America is no godsend, yet he decides it's his way out of Liberia. What at first seems to be a completely financial decision becomes much more complicated than that, as it becomes clear that Cisco's journey to America is not simply financial but also about the need to free himself from the chains of Liberia, a country that haunts him due to a troubled past. This is why I would call Out of My Hand a film that is far more human than political, as it's a film that acknowledges the raping of Africa by Western Capitalism but it never lets this theme cloud the overall personal journey of its main protagonist, Cisco. Played with great weight by Bishop Blay, Cisco is a character who has experienced a lot in his lifetime, and the actor brings a great, worn in presence to his performance, making the viewer question what haunts this man. America doesn't offer Cisco the promise of financial security but it does offer him an ability to attempt to start over in a new place, enabling this man to escape from his past and find some sense of hope in his psyche. The ending sequence of Out of My Hand perfectly encapsulates the thematic elements of the film - a simple sequence that sees Cisco changing a tire on his car. Just like the beginning scene of the film, Out of My Hand exhibits Cisco getting his hands dirty, doing what he needs to do to move forward, as the film draws parallels between his work as a Taxi driver and that of a Rubber Plantation worker. Both these jobs are blue-collar labor that is one-in-the-same on the surface, but perhaps what Out of My Hand is trying to say is that the surface or facade isn't everything, as for Cisco, simply being in America and away from Liberia offers him some sense of freedom and hope to start anew.
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