REVIEW: Rumba Therapy – an absent Dad tries to get to know his daughter through dance classes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Rumba Therapy (Rumba La Vie) is a film written, directed and starring Franck Dubosc which is part of the 2022 Alliance Française French Film Festival.

Rumba Therapy

Franck Dubosc plays Tony, a school bus driver who has no friends or partner. A medical scare sees him decide to get to know his daughter, Maria (Louna Espinosa in her first feature film role), some 20 years after he left her and her mother. But how do you walk into her life without just showing up and saying “hi, I’m the Dad that walked out on you and your Mum when you were little”.


Together with caring co-worker Gilles (Jean-Pierre Darroussin who you may recognise as Henri Duflot from the wonderful series, The Bureau) and Fanny (Marie-Philomène Nga who also stars in OSS 117: From Africa with Love also showing at this year’s AFFFF, and who you may have seen in The African Doctor (Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont)), his African neighbour, Franck puts together a plan to meet Maria, get to know her and win her over – he will enrol in her dance classes under a pseudonym. Tony has no clue about the arts nor about African culture assuming that the F. initial on his neighbour’s buzzer must be for Fatou and that all Africans know the Congolese Rumba. Gilles gives plenty of hints that he may prefer men to women, despite being married to a woman, but these seem to go way over Tony’s head.


What ensues in Rumba Therapy is a comedic and touching tale of a man desperate to repair the wrongs of the past and to make things right before time runs out. There are plenty of absurd comedic moments, and awkward mistakes made. A particularly honest, deadpan Doctor (Michel Houellebecq who you may recall from Delete History (Effacer l’historique) at last year’s AFFFF) also adds to the absurdity of it all.

Rumba La Vie/ Rumba Therapy

The action takes place in the department of Oise where Franck works and the dance studio in Paris where Maria runs classes. Glimpses of the countryside are contrasted with the wooden floors of, and the red sign spelling out DANSE outside of, Maria’s dance studio.


As with Franck Dubosc’s previous AFFFF film, Rolling to you (Tout le monde debout), in Rumba Therapy, Dubosc again uses comedy to bring a lighter quality to his stories of reinvention or seeking change in life. Dubosc is great at his brand of comedy and this film is no different to the style we’ve come to expect from him. The cast is wonderful with each of them bringing something unique to the film. We’d like to see more of Louna Espinosa who was great as daughter Maria and will be watching her career with interest. Jean-Pierre Darroussin is always a joy to watch and it was a nice contrast to see him in this lighter role than The Bureau we’ve come to know him for.

Rumba La Vie

Rumba Therapy is another film being shown at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022 in Australia well before its release in France. It was scheduled for a January 2022 release but the omicron wave and uncertainty about cinema attendances saw it pushed to a French Summer release. The film has faced many delays with the initial lockdown of early 2020 putting location scouting and filming on hold until September 2020. The French August release date is the second change of date from the initial planned release of 15 December 2021.


Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of the Alliance Française French Film Festival.



REVIEW: A Tale of Love and Desire: an exploration of religious and gender expectations in Paris

REVIEW: Fly Me Away – a predictable feel-good film

REVIEW: Goliath: Dirty tactics, word play, and misinformation abound

REVIEW: Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

REVIEW: Mali Twist is a story of impossible love in revolutionary Mali

REVIEW: Men on the verge of a nervous breakdown is a comedy about feeling better through unconventional methods

REVIEW: OSS 117: From Africa with Love – Jean Dujardin and Pierre Niney on screen together is a delight

REVIEW: Paul W.R’s Last Journey: an apocalyptic, vibrant sci-fi fantasy

REVIEW: Paris 13th District – a black and white story of love, lust and mistaken identity in current day Paris

REVIEW: The Braves: a film about the strength of friendship



WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022

WHERE AND WHEN: The festival has concluded in all cities except for Adelaide where it continues until 26 April.

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.



Enter your email to subscribe to new article notifications about all things French and francophone in Australia

Related Posts

Matilda Marseillaise

Discover more from Matilda Marseillaise

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading