Tenor sees Parisian banlieue rap and Bourgeois opera collide

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Claude Zidi Jr’s first solo-directed feature film Tenor will receive a national release on 7 December 2023. It made its Australian debut at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023, where it was so popular it was selected for encore screenings.

Tenor film review

Sushi delivery driver Antoine (rapper MB14, in his film debut) makes a delivery to the opulent Paris’ Opera Garnier. A brief interaction with a student catches the eyes, and ears, of the teacher, Madame Loysau (Michèle Laroque, In Your Arms, AFFFF 2010). An offer of tutelage follows and sees Antoine immersed into the upper-class competitive world of opera, quite a change to the world of rap battles and illegal fights.


But entry into such a different world doesn’t always come easily and acceptance of it in his middle-class family in the gritty, industrial setting of the Parisian banlieue isn’t guaranteed.


Director Claude Zidi Jr explains that the film took about 10 years from initial idea to being made with about 5 or 6 years of development and several versions of the script written in collaboration with Raphaël and Cyrille Droux. The initial idea was sparked by him seeing a teenaged boy and girl dancing rockabilly style outside a school while he was stopped at a traffic light in Saint-Ouen. While they logically didn’t fit together, he saw something beautiful in the contrast and immediately thought of creating something stemming from the dichotomy between rap and opera.


For his film acting debut, MB14 is impressive and persuasive as the rapper-turned‑opera-singer. This is aided by the fact that the voices you hear in Tenor are his own. He trained in opera singing for the film. The director said MB14 was a natural “It’s rare to discover an almost unknown actor in a leading role.”

Michèle Laroque and MB14
Michèle Laroque and MB14

As always, Michèle Laroque (Belle and Sebastien : The New Generation, AFFFF 2023 but also 1997 film Ma vie en Rose, and 2021 film The Closet (Le placard)) is wonderful as the singing teacher who sees and hears potential in the unlikely Opera Garnier school recruit. Together MB14 and Michele Laroque have great chemistry on screen, particularly in the comedic moments of Tenor.


Older brother Didier (Guillaume Duhesme, The Wolf’s Call (Le chant du loup), AFFFF 2020) is the proud leader of the household with Mum (played by the Director’s mother Hélène) living elsewhere and Dad not in their lives. Didier participates in underground boxing fights for money, where the winner takes all. Antoine plays lookout to alert them to scramble if the cops are on their way. But Didier is always looking for a fight – paid or not – especially if it’s about protecting his family name.


A smaller amusing role is that of the cousin Elio (Samir Decazza, who starred with Jean-Claude Van Damme in The Last Mercenary) who is eating constantly. Even dropping his food won’t deter him from picking it back up and eating it again. Antoine is clearly the most intelligent of his immediate family.


Childhood friend Samia (Maéva El Aroussi) who is off to join the French Army and is one of the few with a good head on their shoulders in Antoine’s immediate surroundings.


Real life opera singer, Marie Oppert, plays Josephine, the opera singer who first enchanted Antoine when he made that fateful sushi delivery. She introduces him into a world of fancy soirées, and family homes with their own theatres in them. Quite a contrast from the small spaces in high-rise flats Antoine is accustomed to.


Of choosing a real life opera singer in Marie Oppert, and a rapper from Marseilles for a rap battle scene, director Claude Zidi Jr says : “I wanted everything to be authentic: […] My aim was to choose people for who they are and for what they could bring to the film.”

Tenor - Roberto Alagna avec Michèle Laroque et MB14
Roberto Alagna with Michèle Laroque and MB14

The cameo appearance from French operatic tenor Roberto Alagna together with Tenor being filmed in the actual Opera Garnier (permission was granted at the last minute after what the Director says were several years of trying to convince Opera management) where the actual school exists bring extra touches of realism to the film. That is in addition to the persuasive acting already mentioned above.


Director Claude Zidi Jr is the son of French directing great Claude Zidi so stepping into his father’s footsteps comes with lofty expectations of living up to that same standard. While we cannot compare his career to his father’s, it’s quite easy to say that his debut feature film as sole director is an impressive one and the start, we hope, of something extraordinary. He says “I know that I’m here to shoot stories that are close to my heart, not just to “make a movie”.” If he follows in the same vein as he did with Tenor in perfecting the idea of many years, then we are sure his career will blossom.


Tenor fits nicely into both the comedy and drama categories with many moments of each. It is an inspiring, uplifting film about finding your place, even if it’s not where you expect it might be. It also highlights the power of music, no matter the genre, to change and move people.


P.S. We see that Director Claude Zidi Jr is directing the sequel to Maison de Retraite (The Villa) that we really enjoyed at the AFFFF 2022, which hopefully will come to Australian screens too.

PPS. Claude Zidi Jr’s next film is an idea which is even older than the idea for Tenor! This time it’s an idea he had when he was 16.


GIVEAWAY! – Studio Canal Australia has been kind enough to give us 5 in season cinema passes to see Tenor in Australian cinemas. Follow us on Facebook at and on Instagram at @matildamarseillaise_en and @matildamarseillaise_fr to catch the exclusive film passes giveaway post. Stay tuned for the details and your chance to win a double pass.


Read our reviews of the following films which are currently out in Australian cinemas:

Paris Memories

The Tasting

The Origin of Evil

Lie with Me

The Crime is Mine



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From France to Senegal: Seven Francophone films to expand your cultural horizons at the Perth Festival Lotterywest Films

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Perth Festival 2024 is almost here and before the rest of the festival starts, the Perth Festival Lotterywest Films portion does. This time, it’s bringing a selection of seven French and Francophone films to the big screen. From the Palme d’Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall to the visually inventive EO, there’s something for everyone at this year’s festival.

Perth Festival Lotterywest Films

Read on to discover the seven French and Francophone films to see at Perth Festival 2024. 


Copa 71 (UK)

20-26 November

FRENCH LINK: French is one of the languages in this multi-lingual film. 

With a relentless pace and plenty of kick, Copa 71 makes it easy to get swept up in the excitement. Told by the pioneering women who participated in it and built from archives unseen for 50 years, Copa 71 is the extraordinary story of the 1971 Women’s Soccer World Cup, a tournament witnessed by record crowds that has been written out of sporting history, until now.


EO (Poland/Italy)

27 November – 3 December

FRENCH LINK: French is one of the languages in this multi-lingual film. It also stars French vedette Isabelle Huppert. 

Liberated from the circus after protests by animal activists, a grey donkey with melancholic eyes embarks on a journey through Europe that’s variously wondrous, mystifying and sometimes scary. Directed by legendary Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski, this visually inventive film highlights mankind in all its madness.


Rosalie (France)

11 – 17 December

NOTE: This film hasn’t even been released in France yet! So we don’t have a trailer to share with you. 

The story of a rebellious spirit in a conformist society. Set in 1870s rural France, Rosalie tells the story of a young woman who is about to marry a man she doesn’t love. She hides a secret, a difference that she no longer wants to hide. Will Abel be able to love her when he discovers the truth? 


Starring Nadia Tereszkiewicz (seen recently in The Crime is Mine, and in Only the Animals at AFFFF 20202) and Benoît Magimel (he was in Jack Mimoun and the Secrets of Val Verde, Incredible but true and Paris Memories at this year’s AFFFF and also stars in The Taste of Things at Perth Festival Lotterywest Films).


Robot Dreams (Spain and France)

18 – 24 December

FRENCH LINK: A Spanish-French co-production with a French team of co-producers: Jérôme Vidal, Sylvie Pialat, Benoît Quainon.

A hand-drawn animated film set in an alternate-reality 1980s New York City tells the heart-warming story of a lonely Dog who decides to build a companion, Robot, through a mail order. Dog and Robot quickly become inseparable, exploring Manhattan and rollerblading in Central Park. 


However, a sudden incident leaves Robot rusted and abandoned on a beach. The film follows their journey to reunite, emphasising the value of cherished friendships, even if they are fleeting. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger, this delightful and dialogue-free animation, based on a graphic novel by Sara Varon, is a colourful gem suitable for the whole family.


Anatomy of a Fall (France)

1 – 7 January 2024

The winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, Anatomy of a Fall is a riveting portrait of a German writer on trial for her husband’s murder in the idyllic French Alps, with her vision-impaired son as the only potential witness. Featuring an electrifying lead performance from Sandra Hüller, this gripping courtroom drama puts a microscope on the complexities of relationships and the legal process.


This is Justine Triet’s fourth feature film, and follows the less-acclaimed Sibyl and Victoria both starring Virginie Efira.


The Taste of Things (France)

22 – 28 January 2024

NOTE: This film was only released in France this week!

A sumptuous and exceptionally well-crafted film that tells the story of two food enthusiasts who fall in love. Set in late 19th century France, the film combines mouth-watering dishes with a tale of midlife romance.


Directed by Trân Anh Hùng, it stars Juliette Binoche (who needs no introduction) and Benoît Magimel (who also stars in Rosalie at this year’s Perth Festival Lotterywest film festival). 


Banel & Adama (Senegal)

12 – 18 February 2024

FRENCH LINK: French is one of the languages in this multi-lingual film.

A breathtaking debut feature from Senegalese writer-director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, tells of the romance and struggles of young lovers against traditional expectations. Their relationship faces suspicion as Adama refuses to assume her deceased brother’s role as chief. When a drought hits the region, villagers fear the couple has brought a curse. 


Premiering at Cannes, the film is a lyrical exploration of folklore, fate, and obsession, set against a vivid backdrop.

These are just a few of the many great films on offer at this year’s Perth Festival Lotterywest Films. Which are you going to see? 



WHAT: Perth Festival Lotterywest Films

WHEN: 20 November 2023 – 31 March 2024 

WHERE: Lotterywest Films, UWA Somerville Auditorium, UWA, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA, 6009 / Godroo

HOW: Purchase your tickets online via the links above

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult: $20
  • Festival Club: $18
  • Concession: $17

For more events with links to France and the Francophonie happening in Australia this month, check out our What’s on in November.



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