Amongst the 39th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival’s closing night gala selection, is “Samba” – a reteaming of Omar Sy with his “Intouchables” directors, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.
Based on the trailer below, the film presents a dramatic turn for the often comedic Monsieur Sy, in a drama he of course stars in, alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim and Izya Higelin.
Sy stars as Samba Cissé, a Malian migrant living in France, who earns a living washing dishes in the back kitchen of a fancy hotel – not quite what he hoped for himself on arriving in the country. Things worsen when a bureaucratic slip-up lands him in detention, where he meets Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an immigration worker new to the job, and who isn’t familiar with the hard realities of life for those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder like Samba. When Samba is released from detention, but is ordered to leave France, Alice gets involved, and they both seemingly also get involved with each other.
The filmmakers call the Gaumont/Quad/Ten co-production “a crowdpleaser, an ensemble comedy about friendship, solidarity [that] deals with current issues we can relate to in different parts of the world.”
TIFF adds the following: “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.”
The $20 million film is just one of a handful of new projects on Sy’s slate, including a thriller co-starring James Franco and Kate Hudson titled “Good People;” Stephen Gaghan’s crime drama “The Candy Store;” a biopic on Rafael Padilla – a former Cuban-born slave, who became the first black artist in France during the Belle Epoque era – and more.