Samba (Review)


A Tale of an Immigrant Living in France

Samba deals with France’s Immigration Policy told through the eyes of Samba Cissé played by Omar Sy. Sy is a big star in France due to his performance in a French Film called the Intouchables.  He won the Cesar Award, which is equivalent of France’s best actor, for his role in the Intouchables.  That film was directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, and Samba was directed by two men also.  Sy’s costar is Charlotte Gainsbourg who has won a Cesar Award too. They really make a  great duo in Samba.

Samba Cisse is African immigrant living in France and has been there for ten years while staying with his uncle. He’s a perfect immigrant: has a job, training to be a chef, and keeps out of trouble. He is stopped at an immigration checkpoint to learn that his application for residence has been denied. Samba is detained and questioned by one immigration attorney, Manu (Izia who is well known rock singer in France) and her legal aide, Alice.  Alice and Samba become very close, and become closer when he loses his case to become a resident. Hi uncle gives his residency card for Samba to get work. Samba must keep a low profile because he is always one step away from getting caught by the police and being sent back home.

Samba is an extremely powerful film about one man’s struggle for trying to live in country where Immigration is often illegal and the reclusive policies are against you.  Sy’s performance was the best part of the film. He was funny, charming, and made you really root for him. He and Gainsbourg had great chemistry and their relationship made Samba really enjoyable to watch.  The film is in French and has that French sexually vibe to it. There is one scene between Sy and Gainsbourg where Samba is massaging Alice and it is shot in a very sexual way. The cinematography of the scene leads the audience to believe that they will have an intimate moment.  There are moments like that in the film and it is one of the ways how French films differentiate between America films.  There are criticism about Samba specially immigration policy should have had more of a role.

The story is kind of bland. Personally, there should have been more emphasis on process of the French immigration policy. Samba’s application was decline but the audience never finds out why. He’s a hard worker and has been a productive member of society for ten years. One can assume that he was turned away because he was African. The story would have benefited with inclusion of Samba’s legal battles against the policies of France’s Immigration Policy. It would have added that much needed tension that film needed at times.

Samba is a good film overall. It is very enjoyable and the performances by the actors really make it enjoyable. Sy and Gainsbourg did deserve acting awards.  Samba gets 3.5 for having acting performances, theme, and overall quality of the film.


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