IDFA Review: Petit Samedi

When people talk about drug addiction, they’re normally referring to junkies breaking into houses or homeless people collapsed on the street from spice. They think of someone who is out of control and unable to function within polite society. However, in many cases, this cannot be further from the truth. Whilst it still undoubtedly takes a huge toll on a person’s lives, unless you know them well you might not even know they have a problem.

Damien Samedi is in his early forties. He lives in a small village in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of southern Belgium. He’s quietly spoken and friendly but this gardener has a secret that only his family know. He has been addicted to heroin for twenty years. He has had a strained relationship with his mother which improves somewhat when he decides finally quit. Paloma Sermon-Daï’s documentary, Petit Samedi, follows their story.

Petit Samedi is a quiet and precise film which allows its subjects to tell their own stories in roundabout ways. Sermon-Daï focuses on the relationship between mother and son, through the conversations he has with her and his therapist. It’s an intimate and gentle meditation on the bonds between them and the tensions his addiction has on this connection. Petit Samedi is an unassuming and patient piece of observational cinema.

Petit Samedi screens at IDFA.

Previous IDFA Review: Radiograph of a Family
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