Though a considerable box office success in France, The Intouchables (2011)—a dramatic comedy about a wealthy, white quadriplegic who bonds with his poor, black caregiver—inspired an impassioned cultural backlash. Left-wing commentators accused writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano of peddling a simplified vision of French race relations to flatter white viewers. The film seriously downplayed France’s ongoing problems with race, argued the anti-Intouchables crowd; for them, the movie was no feel-good entertainment but an act of denial. Samba, the latest film by Nakache and Toledano, is another dramatic comedy about French race relations, even less plausible than The Intouchables, that chronicles the blooming romance between a white, middle-class woman and a working-poor Senegalese immigrant. I was moved by Samba despite its falsity; the leads are so charismatic and the optimistic message so sincere that I accepted the movie on its own terms. Continue reading >>