Véro Tshanda Beya has an extraordinary face and screen presence. The camera dotes on her throughout “Félité,”directed by Alain Gomis, who collaborated on the screenplay with Olivier Loustau and Delphine Zingg. Beya plays the woman of the title, Félité, and in the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo she earns her meager living as a singer in a band.
There is magnetism to her manner and appearance, with a face that the camera absolutely adores as it chronicles her life. As for the story, Félicité is stunned when she gets the news that her son has been seriously injured. Suddenly her life is plunged into crisis, with her ordinary routine shattered by the urgency of needing to raise money for her son’s medical care.
This is a tough task, and we follow her journey as she roams the city to solve the problem. Although the atmosphere is compelling, there is not a lot of action in the film, mainly focusing on the singer and her mission. There is also the welcome music provided by th Kasai Allstars band, and of course, the voice of the leading lady.
Looking at close-ups of Félicité through the film is both engrossing and somewhat tiresome, given the one-note mostly somber expression that we encounter. Not until late in the film does she really flash a broad smile, and that becomes a welcome breath of fresh air that enlivens her character and the movie. A Strand Releasing release. Reviewed October 27, 2017.