Directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano (Intouchables), the heartwarming story follows a Senegalese man, Samba Cissé (played by actor/comedian Omar Sy), who migrated to France 10 years ago and has been stuck in various lowly jobs ever since.
When a bureaucratic slip-up lands him in detention and he is ordered to leave France, he meets Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a recently burnt-out immigration worker who has little concept of the challenges immigrants face.
Despite their vastly different backgrounds, they are drawn to each other and find solidarity in an effort to get out of their dead-end lives.
Marking a shift from the broad integration comedy of Les Intouchables, directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache craft a nuanced story here, inflecting the drama of Samba’s predicament with humour that emerges naturally from his growing friendship with Alice, and with a fellow migrant played by the always-engaging Tahar Rahim (A Prophet). There’s even a graceful turn to romance, as Samba and Alice find themselves drawn together by both their similarities and their notable differences.
Samba was adapted for screenplay by directors Nakache and Toledano from Delphine Coulin‘s 2011 novel, Samba Pour La France.
In a sobering book review, Jean-Marie Volet described it as “a shattering novel that reveals, in detail, the life of a young Senegalese man who entered France illegally and, like millions of others around the world, bears the brunt of political expediency, exploitation and xenophobic fears…”
Produced by Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun, and Yann Zenou for Canal+, Gaumont, Korokoro, Quad Films, Ten Films, and TF1 Films Production, Samba premiered at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film was released to French theaters in October 2014 through Gaumont and hit theaters in the U.S. in July 2015 via Broad Green.
Watch the English-subtitled trailer below and pre-order Samba on DVD.