Samba is a French comedy-drama, co-written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano; the due behind the successful 2012 blockbuster The Intouchables. The film, which is based on Samba pour la France by Delphine Coulin, stars Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Tahar Rahim. Samba is a well-intended film that attempts at objectively introducing us to the issue of illegal immigrants. While wittingly avoiding loud statements about injustice, the story’s implementation is mediocre at best. The filmmakers choose to soften the harsh reality faced by such foreigners, by using occasional humor, and by intertwining the main plotline with multiple side stories that end up, more than once, serve as distraction, hampering the film’s pace. I found myself siding with Jordan Mintzer, of The Hollywood Reporter, who wrote of Samba that it: "...wears out its welcome without bringing its message home."
Each country has its own illegal immigration challenges; be it Germany with the Turks, France with people from North Africa, and the USA with Mexico. Most treat such immigrants with resentment at best, even though these people are heavily relied upon to perform the low-end jobs locals find distasteful. Samba gently reminds us that many of the people who go through our recycling garbage at stinky processing plants, who manually separate plastic and paper from our other trash; the same people who, behind the scenes of fancy weddings, clear the dishes: who live crowded in tiny apartments so the little money they make can be sentd back to familys at their homeland, are the ones we sneer at as a country, making them feel all but welcomed.
Samba further paints a very human face to the illegal immigrants’ problem, including some subtle irony such as how, within that community, there are those who enjoy higher status than others e.g. a Brazilians would be favored over an Arabs. Still, despite excellent acting by Sy, Gainsbourg, Rahim and the other cast members, Samba aims to please and as such, it fails at delivering a stronger message.