TIFF 2016 Review: “Foreign Body” (2016) ★★★★★


Title “Foreign Body” (original title Corps Etranger) can suggest many things, such as a mind that does not belong to a body, or even a culture where one behaves in away he should not. However, Raja Amari’s feature film explores a much more complex side of it, which you will have to see it yourself.

Escaping from her Islamist radical brother, Samia finds refuge in France, but illegally. However, it seems the stars favour her, and support in every single step, as she quickly enough finds a job through Madam Berteau, whose husband recently passed away. As they both try to learn each other’s style and even secrets, a young man, Imed interferes with those plans, creating a sensitive situation the future of both women depend on.

When the film begins, we find Samai almost drowned in the sea, but luckily, survives. Being illegal in France and having no official papers, a fear that she can be deported if the authority finds out about her is great, however, the kindness of Jeaque, an owner of a local bistro helps her to get the job. Samai, at first, does not know what to expect from a new land, or, how to reconnect with her mother, but the situation created by her jihadist brother is what makes her look back every time.

I met used to know Samia, and now is willing to help her again. However, the man’s Islamic vision to the world, as well as him hiding feelings towards Samai escalates quickly, but in a way that you, as a viewer could not see it coming. In the meantime, it’s quite charming seeing how Madam Berteau treats Samai. She buys her clothes. Helps her to get a job. Even brings Imed to her house. Was that move a mistake or a right thing to do, hard to tell. But from that moment on, each character will significantly grow, and will never appear the same way they did in the beginning of the film.

Raja Amari’s film was in my list of must-see during the Toronto International Film Festival, and I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Sarra Hannachi was well casted as Samai, a vulnerable young woman with dark past, while there was no surprise with Hiam Abbas’ performance, as she is always great no matter what kind of character she needs to portray. Salim Kechiouche as Imed helps to create a situation when you believe that this is worth those troubles the two women had to go through.

In conclusion, “Foreign Body” is another European film to a look at a life of a refugee and how a refugee can succeed with a little help. Amari as a director seemed had a complete control over his film, as it had absolutely no gaps to complain about. Sometimes, it’s an emotional film, not too dramatic, having a right balance to ensure the viewer won’t lose his focus. And I never did, so, you won’t either.


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