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SAMBA

SYNOPSIS: Samba (Omar Sy) migrated to France 10 years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burnout. 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. They are two strangers drawn on a path to happiness.

Review by Louise Keller:
The delightful push-pull pairing of Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg makes this bittersweet comi-drama about connections a rich and engaging experience. Just as the coming together of a petty thief and a rich paraplegic in The Intouchables brought colourful and interesting juxtapositions, so too does an illegal immigrant from Senegal and an unstable, burnt out executive. Directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's latest film is about survival, choices and coping - depicted with humour, conviction and plenty of heart.

When Alice (Gainsbourg), in her capacity of pro-bono work helping immigrants to Paris apply for visas and jobs and Samba (Sy) meet, there is an immediate connection. She is accessible and they bond over the exchange of sleeping pills and cereal bars from her chaotic handbag. Although her colleague warns her to keep a distance from her clients, it is clear that Alice follows her instincts rather than procedures. It's the development of their relationship that is at the heart of this vibrant film that takes us into the challenging world of an illegal immigrant struggling against the odds to find a way to be accepted into the work force and make a life for himself.

But it isn't easy and when it is seemingly impossible to gain a work visa, it is a matter of changing identities at the drop of a hat and being adaptable to any number of menial jobs, despite the fact that he has almost completed his qualifications to work as a chef. We learn about Samba through his relationships. There is Jonas (Isaka Sawadogo), who is eager to find his fiancˇ Gracieuse (Sabine Pakora) and Wilson (Tahar Rahim), the fun-loving jokester with whom Samba does a stint as a skyscraper window cleaner. The scene in which Wilson does his dance moves while suspended on a ledge, much to the delight of the office girls watching through the glass windows is very funny; Samba terrified of heights all the while. A major plot point relies on the relationship between the man with the name of a dance (who ironically cannot dance) and the man with the name from the bible. There are consequences when Samba looks for Jonas' fiancˇ - and finds her.

Sy fills the screen - physically and with his charisma - as he struggles in his quest. Alice's instability is immediately tangible, Gainsbourg depicting woman on the edge with great sensitivity and humour. They are both looking for that game changer - to give themselves that leg-up to a life to which they both aspire. The humour is subtle, the film treading a fine line between drama and comedy, as there is a constant weaving of emotional textures. The powerful ending comes somewhat as a surprise - but a satisfying one .

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SAMBA (M)
(France, 2014)

CAST: Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim, Izia Higelin, Isaka Sawadogo, Helene Vincent, Youngar Fall, Christiane Millet, Jacqueline Jehanneuf, Liya Kebede

PRODUCER: Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou

DIRECTOR: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

SCRIPT: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano (novel by Delphine Coulin)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephane Fontaine

EDITOR: Dorian Rigal-Ansous

MUSIC: Ludovico Einaudi

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nicolas de Boiscuillˇ

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 2, 2015







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