It is the happy news they had all but given up on: after years of saintly patience, French-African couple Paul and Sali will finally become adoptive parents. Their bundle of joy, Benjamin, is six months old, cute as a button and… white. The unspeakable joy of parenthood is short-lived as they are confronted at every turn with a barrage of opposition and outright racism; not least from Sali’s ired Senegalese family, who are far from enthused with the blue-eyed cherub thrust into their firmly-crossed arms. In a stand-out scene, her bullheaded mother ropes in a witch-doctor to turn her grandson black.
Meanwhile, the fast-sinking couple are hounded by a riled-up case worker hell bent on ending the “farcical experiment”. If this Inquisition-style persecution were not enough, Sali is routinely mistaken for Benjamin’s nanny (from her paediatrician’s double-take, to the cabal of African au-pairs at the local playground, who scoff at her protestations she is his devoted maman). Playing on clichés and laying bare society’s basest prejudices (we would not bat an eyelid at a white couple adopting a black child, surely?), this humanist comedy debunks our knee-jerk stances without ever stooping to moralising or grand pontification. Heart-warming and bracingly observed, Jean-Baptiste’s opus is a gentle (and much-needed) lesson in tolerance.
Film: Il a Déjà Tes Yeux
Director: Lucien Jean-Baptiste
Starring: Aïssa Maïga, Lucien Jean-Baptiste
Running time: 95min
From France Today magazine