Ever since the South Korean classism satire Parasite made filmmaking history as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture, the competition for Best International Film has only gotten more exciting. While there are certainly a wealth of feature films from outside the United States that are released every year, in this particular award season, so many films are worthy of the coveted title that are eligible for the 2023 Oscars. To list just a few, there’s Edward Berger‘s adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front from Germany, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s existential piece Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths from Mexico, and Park Chan-wook‘s detective drama Decision to Leave. Decision to Leave in particular is being considered a front-runner for both a Best Picture and a Best International Film nomination, but there’s one European project that has been the subject of some incredible praise. That film is Saint Omer (2023), which is France’s official selection for the 95th Annual Academy Awards.
Directed by Alice Diop (La permanence), Saint Omer is a courtroom drama based on a true story, following a young novelist who is observing a particularly disturbing court case of a mother who allegedly allowed her infant child to drown by leaving her alone on a beach at night. Since the film’s premiere at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, Saint Omer has become certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with its thought-provoking commentary on the horrors and challenges of young motherhood resonating with critics everywhere.
With the incredible praise the film has been receiving, Saint Omer has gone from a relatively obscure indie feature to a true contender for the awards race. To find out when and where you can watch the acclaimed film, here is exactly how to watch Saint Omer.
Watch the Trailer for Saint Omer
The main trailer for Saint Omer, released by the film’s production company Super, quickly starts things off with the event that the film’s plot revolves around, that being the moment when young mother Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda) leaves her child for dead on a pitch black beach. Cut to later in a French courtroom, Coly is now being tried for murder, both admitting to the crime while also claiming she doesn’t know why she did it. The unusual public trial is being observed by Rama (Kayije Kagame), a professor of literature and aspiring novelist who is continuously shaken by Coly’s testimonies and the revelations of the case. Rama is also wishing to experience the joys of motherhood, but after learning of Coly’s story finds herself fearing she and her child will share a similar fate. Rama becomes so compelled by the case that perhaps the only form of catharsis for both her and Coly lies in the explanation for why this tragedy happened.
When Is Saint Omer Coming to Theaters?
If you’re fortunate enough to be near a theater playing Saint Omer, you won’t have to wait too long to see the film. That’s because this poignant tale of humanity will be entering limited theaters across the U.S. starting Friday, January 13, 2023.
Saint Omer Showtimes
You can use the following links to check for Saint Omer showtimes and tickets at a theater near you:
Is Saint Omer Releasing on Streaming?
Though streaming services have become an excellent source for wide releases, such as was the case for Netflix with All Quiet on the Western Front and Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Saint Omer has no plans for a streaming release as of now. Instead, the film will be reaching wider audiences through a limited theatrical release, giving audiences the same experience that festival goers did by watching it on the biggest screen available.
How’s the Critical Reception to Saint Omer?
As of this writing, Saint Omer has a score on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic above 90% – an astronomically impressive achievement that even the most successful films of all time aren’t always able to acquire. As seen in the above trailer, Saint Omer was an official selection at the New York Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. When the film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, the film was also awarded with the Silver Lion for Best Film Award for the Luigi De Laurentis for Best Debut Feature.
The above trailer also shows of some of the critical quotes the film has received. Collider’s Chase Hutchinson called the movie a “Stunning Legal Drama” in our official review, giving the film an A rating. Read on for an excerpt from the article or check out the full review here.
…Saint Omer is more honest about what really happens and is all the more haunting because of it. We are immersed in a process that feels cruel without cause, brutal without purpose, and doomed to only create more injustice. This is precisely the point, as Diop creates an experience that feels most like her past documentaries in how it watches with a reserved yet reverential patience.
What is the Plot of Saint Omer?
The official plot synopsis for Saint Omer reads as follows:
Rama, a literature professor and novelist, travels from Paris to Saint-Omer to observe the trial of Laurence Coly and write about the case. Coly is a student and Senegalese immigrant accused of leaving her 15-month-old daughter on a beach to be swept away by the tide in Berck. Rama, who is four-months pregnant and, like Coly, is in a mixed-race relationship and has a complex relationship with her own Senegalese immigrant mother, feels a personal connection to Coly. She plans to write a modern day retelling of the Greek Medea myth about the case. As she learns more about Coly’s life and the isolation Coly experienced from her family and society while living in France, Rama becomes increasingly anxious about her own life and pregnancy.