Saint Omer – Film Review
Director – Alice Diop
Writers – Amrita David(screenplay), Alice Diop (screenplay), Zoé Galeron(script consultant)
Stars – Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda, Valérie Dréville
In Saint Omer, we meet Rama (Kayije Kagame), a young academic and novelist. She is looking for inspiration for her latest work and travels to see a controversial court case. The case involves Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), who is dubbed a modern-day Medea as she killed her child. Laurence’s tale is not as straightforward as it may seem, however, as she believes she is not responsible for the death. We see the court case through the eyes of Rama and how it reflects upon her own life.
This is the work of Alice Diop, the French-Senegalese director who made waves last year with her documentary Nous (We), a portrayal of life along a commuter belt in Paris. Her latest work is quite different as it is a work of fiction, although it is based on real-life events. The film was the French nomination for Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, although it did not make the shortlist.
If you’re expecting a court case with dramatic twists and turns, it’s not here. This courtroom is far removed from what we see in Hollywood. Instead, we see long, slow-moving scenes with much text exploring this complex case, which is closer to real life. The central character of the case, Laurence, is an articulate and intelligent woman who is struggling to come to terms with her own actions. The film is an intense piece that demands your attention throughout.
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