Some science fiction experiments with plot and some with form; Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams’s “Neptune Frost” does both. Set in Burundi, the story centers on Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), whose brother was killed in the open-air mine where they worked, and the intersex hacker Neptune (Elvis Ngabo then Cheryl Isheja).
The movie, which incorporates songs by Williams, is a head trip that refuses to be tamed into convention yet eschews the “wackiness for the sake of wackiness” that provides a safe, noncommittal refuge to so many directors. Fluidity is key here, starting with dialogue and songs in languages that include Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, English and French. Similarly porous are the borders between genders, various dimensions, even between man and machine — the costumes look as if they were made of recycled electronic parts. The film often feels like an overly cryptic flight of fancy, but it also offers a startling vision of a realistically chaotic near-future (or alternate present), made up of jury-rigged scraps and hardy souls fighting off oppression. This is the rare pamphlet that feels equally political and poetic.