On the evidence of their worldwide smash "The Intouchables," as well as their latest comedy-drama Samba, writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano specialize in well-intentioned, crowd-pleasing bullshit.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Neither funny enough as an outright comedy nor solid enough as a drama, and certainly not believable as an affaire de coeur.
Sy is such an attentive listener in close-up that you instantly grasp the frazzled Alice’s attraction; if she’s less well defined, Gainsbourg’s nervy intelligence and clenched-jaw resistance to sentimentality hold the interest nevertheless.
Even as Samba struggles to hold onto his identity, the film becomes entangled in an identity crisis of its own.
It’s a love story set in a contemporary world brimming with immigration issues, but it manages to be neither political drama, nor bubbly romance, somehow getting away with being labeled as a comedy.
It is refreshing that this story does not simply unravel into miserablism, but the film’s weird narrative leaps are implausible and jarring.
Running a full reel longer than needed, the film’s balance of romance, humor and pathos starts to slip in the final stretch... though the emotional notes ring true.
Both actors are tremendous. Sy adds powerful dramatic shading to his usual irresistible charm, while Gainsbourg hints at a sunnier disposition beneath her volatile nervousness.