Samba is a beautifully crafted film that explores the illegal immigrant experience and its impact on human dignity through humour and heartbreak.
Directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache re-unite with actor Omar Sy following their critically acclaimed comedy-drama Les Intouchables. Here, the story focuses on a Senegalese man named Samba Cissé (Sy) who has sought refuge in France. Due to a bureaucratic slip up, Samba is deemed illegal and ordered to leave France. Helping the titular hero hold onto the home he’s known for the past decade is a charming set of characters including an elderly uncle, a wise-cracking fellow illegal migrant (Tahar Rahim) and a newbie immigration worker with a corporate past named Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
From the tense and painful experience of constantly hiding your identity to the optimism of going home a success story, the film sheds light on the gamut of emotions experienced by those seeking a better life abroad. Through Alice, we’re also let into the difficulties of immigration workers who struggle to help clients despite language barriers and frustratingly incomplete documentation.
While the film could easily have been a drama, Toledano and Nakache do a masterful job of infusing Samba with delightful humour derived from the endearing characters’ interactions. The laugh out loud moments here are sweet, playful, and above all else, earned. Similarly, the darker emotional responses sought from the audience never feel cheap or manipulative, but rather natural given the complex relationships that evolve on screen.
In addition to the tight writing and direction, Samba also benefits from a superb cast. Even when he’s doing something questionable, Sy manages to convey likability as a leading man. Gainsbourg shines as well in a more tentative role than the Lars Von Trier fare she’s starred in as of late. Simply put, Samba is outstanding. (Elena Lowe)
Sunday, September 7th, 3:15PM ,Roy Thomson Hall (PREMIUM)
Monday, September 8th, 4:00PM, Scotiabank 1