Title – Samba (2014)
Directors – Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano (The Intouchables)
Cast – Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim, Izia Higelin
Plot – Lowly immigrant Samba (Sy) starts a friendship with community worker Alice (Gainsbourg) after his discovered by French authorities and told he must leave the country his called home for the last 10 years.
“I’m afraid I might forget who I am one day”
Review by Eddie on 16/12/2015
$426 million. The amount of money director’s Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano last film The Intouchables made world-wide upon release in 2011/12. Not a bad haul for a movie that cost around $10 million to make.
The thing with the Intouchables was, it was not only a huge box office sensation (particularly in its home country of France) but it was a film that both audiences and critics fawned over so much so that at the time of writing the film holds a steady place within the top 50 of the IMDB Top 250 films of all time. With such success comes expectations however and Nakache and Toledano had their work cut out to make there next project even half of what the Intouchables was, that project was Samba.
Let’s be frank, Samba neither replicated the box office success or the audience success that the Intouchables found but it’s not like Samba is a bad film. Actually it’s far from it; it’s a likeable film that for many reasons just doesn’t contain enough spark or chemistry within it to even come close to bringing the feel good feels that came with the Intouchables. Firstly the story at the heart of this drama that has moments of comedy isn’t nearly as attention grabbing as the true life tale at the heart of Philippe’s and Driss’s friendship and the films central romance between Omar Sy’s (returning to work with the directors) illegal immigrant Samba and community worker Alice, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg never takes off, the two sharing an uneasy chemistry and Samba instead finds its winning card in other places.
Sharing the screen with the always likeable Tahar Rahim (an actor you just know will truly breakout one day) as fellow immigrant Wilson, Sy and Rahim find a groove in their on screen companionship that is both funny and at times emotionally resonate and they elevate the film so much so that you wish the film was centred more around these two newly acquainted friends. They deliver the films funniest scenes (a window washing scene in particular) and showcase just what could’ve been had Samba found more for these two actors to do.
A topical film I’m sure for those situated in France and perhaps the world over in light of the recent refugee crisis’s hitting the news in the last few months, Samba is a quality film that perhaps unfortunately will always be judged alongside the director’s famed predecessor. It’s a shame Samba’s plot didn’t play more to its strengths found in Sy and Rahim’s and in the end it’s a gently touching tale without being a great one.
3 ½ lucky t-shirts out of 5