It ia a hot and popular movie which transposing a story by the Doris Lessing, modern Paris, writer-director Jean-Paul · Civeyrac (Young girl in black) provides a touching, if race and family in the independent drama is not holding portrait my friend Victoria (Mon Ami Victoria). Starring newcomer Guslagie Malanda in the name of the actress who watched life pass her, and longing for something better, such good effect and intimate affair lacking narrative drive to push it far beyond the French border, but it is worth a try.
The late Nobel Prize laureate published her story “Victoria and the Staveneys” in the 2003 collection The Grandmothers (whose eponymous novella was adapted by Anne Fontaine into the 2013 Naomi Watts-Robin Wright starrer, Adore). Lessing’s original tale was set in London and featured a young black girl infatuated with a wealthy white family in her neighborhood. In Civeyrac’s version, the plot mostly remains the same, but the action is moved to Paris, where we watch the orphan Victoria (Keylia Achie Beguie) experience a sort of epiphany when she’s welcomed one evening into the alluring Haussmannian home of an artsy couple living close by.
Although she only spends a night there, Victoria, who is raised by a family friend, Diouma (Elise Akaba) alongside her own young daughter, Fanny (Keemyah Omolongo), never stops dreaming about the life she may never have: one of bourgeois comforts and, as the film later alludes to, a certain kind of white privilege. (Lessing’s story was more blunt about the racial divide. Here it’s less in the forefront, although one scene, where a character compares France’s lingering national identity issues to the rise of Barack Obama in the U.S., is quite pronounced in its critique of local politics.)