When we first meet the eponymous heroine of Marie Dumora’s film, she is a coltish nine-year-old, happily waving at trucks on the street, and hanging around with her older sister Sabrina. Flashforward a few years, and Belinda has grown into a tough-talking teenager, but that little girl is still apparent in her shy gaze. A few more years, and Belinda is getting ready to marry her boyfriend Thierry. Things aren’t easy for the couple, as their wedding plans derail in spectacular fashion.
As a film portrait, Belinda is a remarkable achievement. Foregoing a sentimental approach, it is a warts-and-all look at prejudice, intolerance, and marginalization in French society through the experience of one young woman. The history of the Yenish people, an itinerant population, like the Roma or the Irish travelers, is obliquely indicated, but Dumora’s approach is the opposite of didactic. She allows Belinda to tell her own story, and it is her resilience and stubborn refusal to give up her dreams that most endures. -DW
Like the family movies of a very problematic family, Belinda tracks several years in the life of its titular subject—a French girl of Yenish origins who has a knack for getting into trouble. Not that we can’t see why, and in this tough yet loving portrait by documentary filmmaker Marie Dumora, we witness Belinda’s evolution from a girl thrown into a group home and separated from her sister at a young age, to a teenager and adult who can’t quite escape the criminal tendencies of her clan. -THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER