HE EVEN HAS YOUR EYES (Il a déjà tes yeux). Directed by Lucien Jean-Baptiste with Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Aïssa Maïga and Zabou Breitman. Netflix.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
This little gem of a movie was recommended by a friend on Facebook and I thought I’d give it a try – I was gatvol of the #whyIamstaying invites and needed a different perspective.
A black couple, on the list to adopt a child, are given a white baby. The uncomfortably racist social worker assigned to the case, the mother’s own parents, and of course the racist police all play a part in being suspicious that the poor white baby won’t get what he needs.
What makes this gentle comedy work is that though the characters are bold, and even typical, there is nothing heavy handed in the delivery of the message. And yet, it is able to portray the hideous and deeply embedded racism in a white centred world, where black babies are rescued by white couples and the opposite is treated with suspicion and disbelief. Yes. That is the reality. If it ever happens. I don’t know that there are white adopted kids in black families; certainly not in South Africa. (I just Googled it, and in America 2% of all adoptions are of a black family adopting a white baby, and almost always it is after the family fostered the baby first.)
The most refreshing thing about He Even Has Your Eyes is the framing of the story from a black perspective. Here the young couple are real and normal, with a new small florist business, a house in renovation disarray, unusual friends, and conservative and old-fashioned Senegalese parents. It is the white people who are the disruptors, the disbelievers, the interlopers.
Performances by the cast are delicious. Aïssa Maïga as the young, loving new mother Salimata Aloka, is charming and heartfelt and Lucien Jean-Baptiste as her husband Paul Aloka is just the right balance of quirky and caring. I loved them. Zabou Breitman pulls off her prejudiced character with total commitment (although her change of heart at the end is a flaw in the script. It happens far too easily.) And Marie-Philoméne Nga as the hysterical, traditional but easily win-overable mother of Salimata is hilarious.
There are times when the movie holds a mirror up to this white centred world in a way that makes it hard to swallow. But. It is a comedy, with all the comedy feels. We need more of these normalisers in our abnormal world.
What: He Even Has Your Eyes (Il a déjà tes yeux)