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The Crack Magazine

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Saint Omer

Director: Alice Diop

Stars: Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda, Valérie Dréville, Aurélia Petit

Documentarian Alice Diop ventures into fiction for this controlled, and provocative spin on the courtroom drama. Kayije Kagame is Rama, a pregnant writer travelling to Saint-Omer in Northern France to observe the trial of Laurence (Malanga), a student and Senegalese immigrant who has been accused of leaving her fifteen-month-year-old daughter on the beach to be swept away by the tide. As the trial progresses Rama, who like Laurence is in a mixed-race relationship, begins to identify with the accused, causing her to question her own life and prospects, as well as reflect on her relationship with her Senegalese immigrant mother, depicted by Diop via flashbacks. Inspired by a real shocking case, which the director followed avidly, this is a formally audacious, elusive, but involving examination of the immigrant experience and the permeability of identity. A puzzle that won’t be to all tastes, but a compelling one.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm