COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 58min (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Funny valentine: Sy and Gainsbourg
Samba (The Intouchables’ Sy) is Senegalese, resident in France for 10 years, gainfully employed in catering but locked up all the same as an illegal immigrant. Alice (Gainsbourg) is a winged-bird volunteer, in recovery from a breakdown that has temporarily put paid to her oppressive recruitment consultancy career, now working to get Samba and scores like him out of holding centres and secure their status.
It’s no seaside stroll; La France can be picky. Released from detention, Samba is still illegal and forbidden to reapply for residency for 12 months. In addition to the paranoia-inducing threat of deportation and the constant scrabbling for low-rung, casual work, he also faces an obstacle course of emotional swings and roundabouts — although nothing a little faith in human nature won’t fix. The Intouchables writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano have grounded their closely researched fiction in an uncertain reality but Sy’s warm solidity and Gainsbourg’s muted empathy keep its spirits buoyant under pressure. As a couple, Samba and Alice are a quixotic ideal you can’t help hoping will gel.