The Place in Between -- Film Review

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TORONTO -- A pronounced language barrier won't alienate audiences watching "The Place in Between," an intimate character study about a young woman born to a white French father and a mother from Burkina Faso, who travels to her maternal homeland to reconnect with her African roots.

Premiering at Toronto, this first feature by documentary director Sarah Bouyain should find a place at future international film festivals, but a domestic theatrical run would seem unlikely.

Bouyain doesn't stray too far from a documentary style in her portrait of Amy (the striking Dorylia Calmel), who initially goes to Burkina in search of her mother, whom she hasn't seen since she was a very young child.

While it turns out her mother left the dusty village years ago, she rekindles a strained relationship with her aunt Acita (Blandine Yameogo), eventually managing to come to an understanding of sorts despite not being able to speak each other's language.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Amy and her aunt, her mother (Assita Ouedraogo) is actually working in France cleaning offices and teaching her native tongue to a white French woman (Nathalie Richard).

Although the cold ending feels unsatisfying and the performances are uneven, Bouyain's vivid take on those very distinct worlds is intriguing, while Calmel, who looks like a young Diana Ross, gives a lovely, connected performance as a biracial woman struggling to find her own identity.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival
Production companies: Athenaise, Abissia Prods.
Cast: Dorylia Calmel, Assita Ouedraogo, Nathalie Richard
Director: Sarah Bouyain
Screenwriters: Sarah Bouyain, Gaelle Mace
Producer: Sophie Salbot
Director of photography: Nicolas Gaurin
Music: Sylvain Chauveau
Editors: Valerie Loiseleux, Pascale Chavance
No Rating, 82 minutes
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