SXSW 2016: ‘A Stray’ is a frustrating, yet beautiful ode to the power of belief

Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman), a Somali refugee living in Minneapolis, has nowhere to go. His mother has kicked him out, and his friends are sick of his stubborn ways. With nowhere left to turn, Adan seeks shelter at his local mosque, and it’s there that he begins to learn who he really is. Under the guidance of his god and the members of the church, Adan begins a new life away from the people and surroundings that caused him so many problems in the past. He begins to rebuild, if you will, but soon life throws Adan an unexpected curveball that once again forces change upon the young refugee.

A Stray probably could have made for a better short, but stretched to a runtime just shy of the 90-minute mark there is barely enough material to reach the finish line. That said, the commanding performance of Barkhad Abdirahman and the beautiful dialogue provided by Syeed makes for a unique experience that matches heart with theology without coming across as being too heavy-handed in its delivery. In a world overflowing with indie films, A Stray is utterly unique, both in the story it has to share and purpose for its existence. The film doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, but what does work will stay with you for many months to come.

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