Tanzania: A Journey Within (NR)
Documentary 104 min. May 2, 2014
This documentary is often cruel to Kenney, who displays a level of clueless naivete astounding even for an innocent abroad. Kenney seems to never have had a brush with death or despair in any form; it seems possible she's never read a novel or the newspaper. She experiences the trip through a lens always focused on herself: "This is by far the coolest thing I've ever done!" on the slopes of Kilimanjaro; "I'm in frickin' Africa!" as she is driven past animals on the Serengeti.
Kenney is an excellent stand-in for exactly what foreigners think of when they think of Americans: ignorant, shallow, narcissistic. And while she ruminates often about the contrast between her expectations and her experiences, she seems at a loss whenever Ndibalema expresses deep emotions about his past or his return. But Kenney is also open-minded and good-hearted, and she eventually comes to terms with her sheltered status. Trouble is, it's mostly pointless. This film shows what was clearly a profound set of experiences for both Ndibalema and Kenney, but it is not much more than a well-made vacation slideshow or an extended Facebook post, complete with exclamation points.