Amin is a Senegalese man who comes to France in search of work so that he can send money to his wife and children back home, and that’s about the level of depth we get to what could be an incredibly moving and hard-hitting film. Director Philippe Faucon unfortunately fails to bring intensity to a story and subject matter that is almost inherently profound; the tale of a man’s sacrifice and the struggles associated with it sadly isn’t explored to its full potential.
As Amin, played by newcomer Moustapha Mbengue, navigates the difficulties of being away from his family and homeland he begins an extramarital affair with French woman Gabrielle (Emmanuelle Devos), supposedly to cope with the loneliness of his solitary life. His wife Aïsha (Marème N’Diaye) is clearly strained under the burden of having to raise a family on her own and wonders why the kids and she can’t come back to France with him. Although it’s possible his relationship with Gabrielle could be a factor in his decision to not invite his family to join him, it’s unlikely. Faucon rationalises the choice with a lacklustre explanation: simply that there are problems everywhere and that moving to France wouldn’t absolve them of hardship and wouldn’t necessarily present the children with better opportunities than, say, staying in Senegal. There was a real opportunity to dive into the pain and sadness of having to be away from one’s loved ones for the chance for them to have a better life, but the audience is never quite taken into the depth of this conflict.
Tepid chemistry between the actors factors into the lacklustre quality of the film. There’s real potential as the performers are clearly talented but none of the characters have the sort of sensitivity to one another that is necessary for a compelling relationship. Furthermore, the principle disruption is the affair with Gabrielle, but the romance lacks intensity. They begin sleeping together because, presumably, he’s lonely and she’s sympathetic to that, but the fling fizzles out and it’s simply not a strong enough conflict to hit home. It doesn’t drive or carry the story in any way and winds up feeling almost inconsequential.
For a topic that is so extremely relevant and affects countless people whose realities are close to Amin’s, the concept of sacrifice never makes itself known. Amin doesn’t fully commit and winds up being less than memorable.
Amin is released in select cinemas on 21st June 2019.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from Amin here: