Tony Gatlif’s movies have always been about music, rhythm, movement and the rush of travel as much as any particular story, and his latest, “Indignados,” takes that to an extreme. Inspired by the best-selling screed of former French resistance fighter and concentration-camp survivor Stephane Hessel “Indignez-vous! (Time for Outrage!),” which became a touchstone for the Occupy and anti-austerity protests, “Indignados” paints a portrait of a continent on the cusp of revolution.
“Indignados” follows Betty (Mamebetty Honore Diallo), an economic migrant from Senegal who crosses by boat into Europe, where she dreams of finding work to support her village back home. After rough treatment by the authorities, her journey takes her across Greece, France and Spain, where jobs are scarce and protests common. Many of the events depicted are from Diallo’s own life, but the film often veers into impressionistic sequences, such as a cascade of tangerines down a street set to a soundtrack of frenetic flamenco hand-clapping, which is supposed to symbolize the Tunisian birth of the Arab Spring — or something. It’s an art film about politics, or vice versa, and while individual sequences are ripe with imagination, it fails to form a coherent whole, like “Exiles” or “The Crazy Stranger” without the story.