Saint Omer

Director: Alice Diop

2023, 123min., PG-13

Language: French with English subtitles

Screenwriter: Alice Diop, Marie N'Diaye


The first feature film by Alice Diop is based on an actual 2015 murder trial in Saint Omer that she attended as a journalist, and would ultimately transform into an award-winning movie. Laurence Coly (as played by the enigmatic Guslagie Malanda). Standing in for the director is Rama, an accomplished journalist sent to cover the trial. Attending every day, Rama discovers a mirror image of herself in the killer. Both share Sénégalese heritage, have difficult relationships with their mothers, are educated, and have French white partners. When Coly calmly reveals that she is not guilty – it is a curse by witches in her tribal village that led her to murder. Where the French secular court sees a flimsy excuse, Rama feels deep in her soul the war between the culture that you grew up with, and the whole new world presented by their former colonizers. Winner, Silver Lion Grand Jury prize, Venice Film Festival. “Brilliant! Diop explores the nature of personal and national identity, the multigenerational trauma of migration, and France’s ongoing failures to reflect its ethnic and racial diversity.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker magazine.