Review: Une saison en France (2017)

Une saison en France (2017)

Directed by: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun | 97 minutes | drama | Actors: Eriq Ebouaney, Sandrine Bonnaire, Aalayna Lys, Ibrahim Burama Darboe, Bibi Tanga, Léonie Simaga, Régine Conas, Khampha Thammavongsa, Stéphane Malassenet, Nathan Dellemme, Marius Yelolo, Heling Li, Franck Okouo, Tom Harounpha, Gilles Louzon , Sandra Nkake

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun has lived in France since 1982, but his heart and soul have remained in his native Chad all these years. Most of the seven films he has made so far are set in Africa. Haroun incorporated his own experiences – he fled his country because of the civil war that tore Chad for years – in his multi-award-winning feature films and translated them into the present day. His most famous films are ‘Daratt’ 92006), ‘Un homme qui crie’ (2010) and ‘Grisgris’ (2013). ‘Une saison en France’ (2017) is also close to Haroun’s heart. The filmmaker himself was lucky enough to receive a residence permit years ago and was able to settle in France. With his latest film, he underlines once again that not everyone is allowed that happiness and that there are many refugees – ordinary people who want to make something of their lives in a new homeland – who are in uncertainty for months. If you don’t know if you can stay somewhere, what’s the point of building a life?

Abbass (Eriq Ebouaney) has fled the poverty-stricken Central African Republic after a civil war broke out. His wife died in the fighting, but Abbass does not have much time to process her passing; he has to be there for his two children Yacine (Ibrahim Burama Darboe) and Asma (Aalayna Lys). When we get to know them, there hardly seems to be a speck in the air. Well, Abbass has bad dreams about his late wife, but he has a job, his children go to school and they live in a nice apartment. Appearances can be deceiving, however: where in Africa Abbass was a respected French teacher at the university, here he is the poorly paid assistant of a market trader. And that house is only temporary. Abbass stands firm and continues, but if his residence permit application is rejected, and he is also evicted from his apartment, it is difficult for him to maintain his dignity. This also applies to his good friend Etienne (Bibi Tanga), who made the crossing to Europe with Abbass and his family. He looks neat, like a man who commands respect, but it’s a facade he desperately tries to keep up. He wears the same suit every day, freshens up every day in the shower room of a swimming pool and he sleeps in a shack under a bridge. Both men do not feel really welcome in France. Their patience, self-esteem, and self-esteem are severely tested. How much uncertainty can a person handle?

Mahamat Saleh Haroun is a modest filmmaker. In ‘Une saison en France’ don’t expect any spectacle, exuberant emotions or heavy melodrama. Instead, Haroun reluctantly observes Abbass and Haroun collapsing piece by piece because of the degrading conditions they have to live in. There are glimmers of hope, in the form of a blossoming love between Abbass and the Franco-Polish Carole (Sandrine Bonnaire). When he is with her, he is happy for a while. A beautiful scene is where they celebrate Carole’s birthday with Yacine and Asma. With a small cake, a children’s drawing and a dance in the living room. As simple as it may be, happiness speaks. For a moment, Abbass does not think about his residency status, his fatigue and his worries. Lead actor Eriq Ebouaney deserves kudos for his acting; with few words he manages to convey a huge range of emotions. ‘Une saison en France’ is a small, honest drama that exposes an unbearable suffering. Because for many refugees this is the order of the day. On the one hand, the filmmaker Haroun shows that he keeps his film so modest, on the other hand, he could have gone a bit further to give his message even more impact.

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