SAINT OMER – Review by Diane Carson

The central tragedy of French director Alice Diop’s Saint Omer is as unusual as it is perplexing, based on a real 2016 court case. In the film Laurence Coly takes her mixed-race, fifteen-month-old baby Elise to Berck-sur-Mer, a depressed resort area within a national park on the Opal Coast, northern France. Shockingly, she abandons Elise on the sandy beach.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 12, 2023: SAINT OMER

Saint Omer shows us that people are flawed and fragile, and that we all have a need to be seen and acknowledged. Our choices and actions define us, but we can’t always explain why we do what we do. In a world that seeks clear-cut motivations and places to lay blame, the complexity of personal history and traumatic experience means that there are shades of gray everywhere we look. Filmmaker Alice Diop understands this and lets this powerful, painful true story speak for itself.

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SAINT OMER – Review by Loren King

You’ve likely never seen a mother/daughter film like Saint Omer, a courtroom drama that defies the expected histrionics and finality of the genre’s conventions. Instead, writer/director Alice Diop delivers an intimate, unsentimental film that quietly but steadily accumulates in power. Saint Omer gradually and with subtlety peels back layers to reveal issues of culture and class, racism and misogyny, motherhood and daughterhood, and how Black women struggle to be seen in relationships, families, countries, courts. There is no cathartic conclusion. But Saint Omer ends on a compelling note with Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of Little Girl Blue which never sounded so sorrowful yet defiant.

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