Saint Omer (2022, Alice Diop)

A movie of people standing very still and talking, named after the town where the crime took place in late 2015. Subtly cinephiliac movie – Rama is teaching a lesson on Duras, shows the shaved-head scene from Hiroshima Mon Amour in class – all the white actors in this movie have been in Resnais films. Rama is weird and closed-off around family, never mentions she’s leaving town to witness a murder trial.

The judge was in Mon oncle d’Amérique as a kid:

Laurence is the accused, is quoted as having said that she killed her baby to “make life easier” but pleads innocent: “I don’t think I’m the responsible party.” The judge questions the much-older, married boyfriend, a real shithead, then asks for L’s whole life story. Meanwhile Rama has lunch with the accused’s mom, reveals that Rama is pregnant, and at the hotel she frames through Pasolini’s Medea.

Laurence’s mom: Salimata Kamate of Intouchables

Movie ends, having made its point(s), without wrapping up the trial. But it’s based on an actual trial, which Diop attended in 2016 in the same courtroom where they filmed, and which ended in a 20-year sentence.

Leila Latif for BFI:

The acting is uniformly superb, even when it’s simply dispassionate testimony that’s being dispatched. [Kayije] Kagame plays Rama in a state of continual displacement, ill at ease at dinner with her mother, uncomfortable on the streets of Saint-Omer and conspicuous in the courtroom; [Guslagie] Malanda evokes profound pain through the tiniest cracks in her expressions and voices as she revisits traumatic memories.