Credit: David Koskas


The massive success of The Intouchables, the 2012 French import that earned nearly half a billion dollars worldwide, could be attributed to many things—the odd-couple conceit, the crowd-pleasing script, the fact that nobody doesn’t love a dance sequence set to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland.” But the movie’s appeal really hung on one man: Omar Sy, a kinetic, loose-limbed actor with a lightning-bolt smile. Samba reunites Sy with Intouchables’ writer-director team and echoes a lot of its le popcorn charm, even as the story cuts closer to the sociopolitical bone by speaking directly to France’s current immigration crisis. Sy stars as the title character, a Senegalese dishwasher in Paris whose struggle for legal status leads him to Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a jittery caseworker with her own serious issues. Their romance is one of several plot maneuvers that ring false, but Samba finds a much stronger rhythm when it stops contriving and simply shines a light on the joy and pain (and musical interludes) of lives lived in the margins. B+

2015 movie
  • Movie
  • 118 minutes