By Halli Burton.
French director Philippe Faucon’s Amin presents a vivid insight into the mundane lives of African immigrants in France, a stark contrast to the clean romantic streets of central Paris, home to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and the beloved Notre Dome that moviegoers are accustomed to.
The film centres around its titular character Amin (Moustapha Mbengue), a Senegalese construction worker living in France so that he can earn precious euros to provide for his wife Aïcha (Mareme N’Diaye) and their three children ‘back home’ and build a dream house.
Amin works in Paris, but lives in a workers’ hostel in Saint-Denis, an almost segregated northern Parisian suburb, made up mostly of African migrants. His life in France and the lives of his fellow immigrant friends are dull, monotonous and lonely.
Unsurprisingly, and rather disappointingly, Amin starts a relationship with Gabrielle (Emmanuelle Devos), the white divorced owner of the house that Amin is renovating. Her seduction – for want of a better word – of Amin is both unromantic and mechanical. There’s no flirting nor courtship and it’s difficult to grasp what they get from each other, even the sex is unconvincing!
The film’s most striking feature is how flits effortlessly between France and Senegal: the former being cold, grey and unwelcoming while the latter is poor yet vibrant and sunny. Amin’s bright children miss him and desperately want to join him France, while devoted Aïcha battles against Amin’s mother and domineering brother. Aïcha also torments herself with the idea that Amin doesn’t visit often because he is being distracted by something other than work.
Back in France, Amin’s friends face personal struggles of their own, in particular Abdelaziz who is torn between his family in Algeria and his French children in Paris. Elsewhere, Amin’s side-piece Gabrielle is fighting her own demons, namely a bitter ex-husband and a moody teen who makes it clear how she feels about her mother’s indiscretions.
The film’s theme is obvious: migrant life is tough and unfair, and the French government isn’t helping much either. What’s more tragic however, is Amin’s uninspiring narrative.
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