The title of the film suggests a very different soundtrack – the songs that comprise the movie make for an unexpected and diverse experience which couldn’t be further from the music that accompanies the famous Brazilian dance. In this film, Samba is a Senegalese man living in Paris and working as a scullion in the restaurant of a hotel -he maintains a fervent desire to work in its kitchen, though his chances of doing this are slim. Things get really difficult for Samba when he is forced to approach a voluntary organization for help in order to escape his upcoming deportation from France due to a simple bureaucratic slip. This is when and where he meets Alice, an intriguing and complicated woman with her own traumatic past. The acquaintance will change both of their lives, as Samba’s positive energy infects Alice, who’s struggling with depression.
The script and the direction is a joint effort by an already successful film duo, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano – two filmmakers who found fame with the highly successful Intouchables, which managed to be nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. In the leading role, in both films, is Omar Sy, who has returned to the big screen as Samba Cissé, claiming a prominent place in the pantheon of great French actors who are now recognised abroad. In the role of Alice is Charlotte Gainsbourg while the rest of the cast is completed by talented actors like Tahar Rahim, Izïa Higelin, Hélène Vincent, Liya Kebede, Isaka Sawadogo, Jacqueline Jehanneuf, Youngar Fall and Christiane Millet. The script based on the novel Samba pour la France by Delphine Coulin.
Read at Unsung Films: Chef: The Soundtrack.
The two directors of Samba put the film’s soundtrack into the trusty hands of the Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi for a second time. With five not-so new compositions that are scattered over the soundtrack’s tracklist, Einaudi hypnotises listeners with his spellbinding, melancholic chords – a beautiful combination of peace and tension. Perhaps the highlight of this soundtrack is the score “Experience” – a track that epitomises this unique hybrid and a piece which was also used on the soundtrack of the breath-taking French masterpiece Mommy. The accompanying four are all taken from his own solo album released in 2013 titled “In a Time Lapse”.
Ludovico Einaudi – Experience
The songs chosen by the authors, along with input from Einaudi, instil a sensual and disturbing atmosphere within the heart of Samba. The great American singer, Terry Callier also makes an important contribution with his hit song “Love theme from Spartacus”, which is also included in the 1998 album “Time Peace” while the young Tom Odell continues in the same style with the success that made him known throughout the world in 2012, a wistful piece entitled “Another Love”.
Tom Odell – Another Love
But not the entire track is lullaby material. Forgotten musical pearls from the disco era of the 80s comprise the rest of the soundtrack and give a cheerful and uplifting feel that fill in the gaps in the tracklist. The song “Palco” by the Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil is more fitting in a film titled Samba while The Brothers Johnson colour the film with the song “Stomp!” Jorge Ben Jor gets things going with his nostalgic track “Take it easy my brother Charles” characterised by bossa nova rhythms that will take us back in time. The funky part is covered by Stevie Wonder’s former wife, Syreeta, in their joint effort in 1972 entitled “To Know you is to Love You”.
The soundtrack is not lacking in reggae tunes either – most noticeably, the familiar sound of Bob Marley and the Wailers and their song “Waiting in Vain”. But one of the main highlights is undoubtedly the uplifting contribution by Austrian DJ and producer Parov Stelar, an electroswing track called “Cat Groove” from the 2009 album “Coco” – the opening track of the entire film.
Samba full soundtrack
Samba: OST Complete Tracklist
- ParovStelar – Catgroove
- Ludovico Einaudi – Time lapse
- Ludovico Einaudi – Ascolta
- LudovicoEinaudi – Walk
- Terry Callier – Love thème from spartacus
- Gilberto Gil – Palco
- The Brothers Johnson – Stomp!
- Jorge Ben – Take it easy my brother charles
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Waiting in vain
- LudovicoEinaudi – Expérience
- LudovicoEinaudi – Run
- Syreeta – To know you is to love you