Saint Omer – TIFF 2022

Saint Omer

Saint Omer – TIFF 2022

Follows Rama, a novelist who attends the trial of Laurence Coly at the Saint-Omer Criminal Court to use her story to write a modern-day adaptation of the ancient myth of Medea, but things don’t go as expected.

September 8 to

September 18, 2022

A pregnant novelist confronts her traumas while observing a court case involving infanticide in Saint Omer. Rama () is a young, pregnant novelist who attends the trial of Laurence Coly () at the Criminal Court as inspiration for her upcoming book about the ancient Medea myth. However, hearing Laurence's case involving killing her infant daughter results in Rama revisiting childhood trauma involving her mother.

Saint Omer is the narrative debut by documentarian Alice Diop (We), which involves a young novelist named Rama, who is observing an infanticide court case, which brings back some traumatic memories and fears about Rama's pregnancy. The film takes a documentary-like approach to depict the court case, featuring extended static shots of the testimony.

To put it bluntly, Saint Omer is a chore to get through. A sizeable percentage of the plot involves lengthy dialogue-heavy courtroom scenes, with very few camera cuts, almost overtaking the main narrative story involving Rama. It's almost as if Alice Diop was unsure how to make a fictional narrative film, so she made Saint Omer as if it was a courtroom documentary. The result is a painfully dull drama with a somewhat ambiguous overall message.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.