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Review: Samba


Directed By: Eric Toledano, Oliver Nakache

Starring:  Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Running Time: 120 minutes


From the French directing duo that introduced audiences to the 2011 hit film The Intouchables, Eric Toledano and Oliver Nakache present yet another heartfelt and rather sentimental story in Samba. Based loosely upon Delphine Coulin’s successful novel Samba pour la France, Samba is as much of a romance as it is a reflection upon the immigration issues surrounding France today. Starring Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the film follows protagonist Samba, who migrated to France from Senegal ten years before the film is set, as he tries to establish himself as a chef within modern day France while being an illegal migrant.

Considering Samba is a French film and is set in Paris, the cinematography within this film is spectacular, where breathtaking establishing shots of the city are regularly used to the film’s advantage.  The use of camera angles are also effective when complemented by Sy and Gainsbourg’s acting. The pair subtly inform the audience of how the characters are feeling without needing to say a word, which works well considering the density of these characters. The film’s screenplay is yet another impressive factor, as it has the power to tackle subjects such as depression along with immigration and yet also the ability to lace humour within scenes to prevent the darker aspects of the film from being too harrowing. 

While Samba makes an interesting story, it can be said that at times the film loses its punch with extended scenes. However, it has a lot of heart and reminds the audience just how strong international cinema is as films like Samba have the ability to tell the stories and experiences that others go through that we may not necessarily be aware of. Whether you are a fan of international cinema or not, Samba will leave you with something to think about as you leave the cinema and therefore makes a quality film. 

– Katherine Powell

Samba is now showing as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival until March 22, and is released nationally on April 2.