Tenor [Ténor]— Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

Review by Michele E. Hawkins.

Antoine (Mohammed Belkhir, who raps as MB14) has a pretty busy life studying accountancy, making sushi, rapping duels, and acting as lookout for his brother, Didier (Guillaume Duhesme), who free-fights illegally to make money to see Antoine through his studies.  Antoine is an important and much-loved member of his community, which values loyalty above all.

When Antoine delivers a sushi order to the Opéra Garnier, opera teacher Madame Loyseau (Michèle Laroque) recognises his potential as a singer and offers him a chance to learn, and Antoine is drawn, despite taunts, into opera’s foreign but compelling world, a world he must try to reconcile with his community life.

Comfortable in his own skin as Antoine, real-life rapper and opera singer Mohammed Belkhir holds this film together playing a character of perception and sensitivity.  And bringing her natural poise and focus to the fore, Michèle Laroque creates a beautifully balanced Madame Loyseau, a woman of culture and discipline, encouraging but strict, a teacher ready to fight behind the scenes for someone whose raw talent, if handled carefully, could bring life to the operatic stage.

With clashes in the street, in the world of rap, in the world of opera, and eventually between brothers and friends, Tenor — at times comedic, at others dramatic — is a story of Antoine’s difficult journey from recognising his true path in life to finding the courage to follow it.  Despite its contrasting worlds, Tenor is a film whose protagonists are easy to relate to, and suspending disbelief (because no one actually becomes an opera singer overnight) is worth doing for the pleasure the tale delivers.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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