Senegalese Samba has worked 10 years in France. He's arrested and befriends the woman helping him with legal matters as volunteer after a burnout at work. He's released after being told to leave France. Chemistry?
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Samba migrated to France ten years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burn-out. Both struggle to get out of their dead-end lives. Samba's willing to do whatever it takes to get working papers, while Alice tries to get her life back on track until fate draws them together.Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
When Samba is sitting in the Metro waiting for a train, behind him is a poster with the heading 'Pasolini Roma'. This is an advertisement for an exhibition that examined the works of writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and in particular, his interactions with Rome. The exhibition was not limited to his cinema work but also included poetry, politics, his commitment to city life, sex, and friendship. It was held in three cities - Barcelona, Paris and Berlin, with the Paris exhibition at the La Cinémathèque Française running form 16th October 2013 t0 26th January 2014. See more »
Well-intended but flawed movie, riddled with clichés
"Samba" (2014 release from France; 115 min.) brings the story of Samba Cissé. As the movie opens, the camera pans from a wedding reception to ultimately the back kitchen, where we meet Samba, an illegal resident in Paris hailing from Senegal, making ends meet as a dishwasher. It's not long before Samba gets into trouble, and he faces possible deportation, despite having live in France already 10 years. Alice, a novice social worker/pro bono immigration adviser, is assigned to Samba's case. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, this is a return of the team that brought us the delightful "The Untouchables" a few years ago: co-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, and lead actor Omar Sy. On top of that, one of my favorite actresses, Charlotte Gainsbourg, co-stars. So this just HAS to be a great movie, right? Alas, it was not to be. From almost the very beginning of the movie, the plot is riddled with clichés and one-dimensional characters. Alice, played by Gainsbourg, is a rookie, literally the first day on the job. She is told by a co-worker who is training her that she should never, ever give out her phone number to any of the immigrants she is assigned to assist. So what does Alice do within minutes? Give her phone number to Samba, of course! The immigration system is portrayed as absurd, and I'm sure that there are serious issues there, but the way that the directors present it to us (all illegal immigrants: angels! immigration officials: the devil incarnate!) just made me roll my eyes. As for the supposed "comedy" aspects of this movie, I didn't notice much of any. I'm sorry if I'm being harsh on this movie. I'm sure this movie was well-intended, and I really wanted to like it, but when the movie was over, I felt very disappointed and, frankly, let down. Please note there is a nice soundtrack (available in France but not in the US, as far as I can tell), which features the Brothers Johnson's "Stomp", Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain", and Cyreeta's "To Know You Is to Love You", among many others.
I saw this movie during a recent family visit in Belgium. The early evening screening where I saw this at was quite well attended actually. I have no idea if or when this movie will make it to US theaters, although given the success on the art-house theater circuit of "The Untouchables", I wouldn't be surprised that this gets a US release at some point. Whether in the theater or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, I encourage you to check this out and draw your own conclusions about "Samba".
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