Samba: Film Review
Cast: Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
The directors of The Intouchables re-team with the star of that film, Omar Sy, for this new flick, that promises comedy but wallows in its own earnestness.
Ten years ago, Samba (Sy) migrated from Senegal to Paris and has been doing lowly paid jobs to get by, slowly shuffling cash back home. But when he's caught in an immigration sting, he comes across Charlotte Gainsbourg's Alice, an immigration worker who's a little lost in life.
The two form a friendship thanks to Samba's flirting and big brown eyes hitting the spot with Alice, his case worker who's getting involved where she shouldn't. But the relationship that shouldn't be faces all kinds of problems and stumbling blocks...
Samba starts with a dancing club- flapper style hijinks, with the camera pulling back to reveal a wedding and then looping into the backrooms and the solitude of Samba working in the kitchen. It's a burst of energy from the high life to the backlot but it's symptomatic of the hiss and the roar that Samba starts with and then fizzles out.
Granted, there are comic moments here and there, with Samba working a window cleaning job atop a tall building providing the best laughs of the film, but Samba the movie struggles to find an engaging footing throughout despite the work of the two leads. There's a nice softening of the relationship which is carried along by a modicum of gentle charm, but the movie tries to mix the earnestness and cliche to create a commentary on migration in these times.
It's nowhere near as successful as it wants to be, which is a real shame, and Samba consequently struggles to find its own path, meaning the message is lost, and the film, like Samba adrift in the system, fails to really capitalise on its own identity.