Obviously the most important losses from COVID19 is the human life that was taken across the globe. Almost everyone knows someone who was taken too soon from the virus and this number would have been even more without the brave essential workers who helped treat the ill. However, this was not the only loss we experienced as a country. Movie theaters, restaurants, entertainment, theater and more were all shuttered down and in a lot of cases faced irreparable harm.
Marcus Mizelle’s new documentary Belle Vie showcases this nightmare through the perspective of Vincent Samarco who started 2020 running a popular bistro called Belle Vie.
Samarco is a cheerful fellow and he tries to do everything he can to save the bistro including building an outdoor patio area so patrons can be socially distanced. It even seems like they are going to be successful but then the second wave hit California and they were forced to shut down. This is all chronicled by Mizelle in as bright and happy a tone as is possible given the circumstances.
It’s ironic that Belle Vie lies between a McDonalds and a KFC. Such large corporations were able to weather the pandemic (of course) but it’s hard to not feel like we let the small people like Samarco down. They face not only bankruptcy but also in many cases deportation when they aren’t able to run their businesses like normal. It’s very sad but like I said Samarco is such a cheerful guy that it’s easy to forget the sadness while following his story.
For some people it might be hard to watch Belle Vie. The pain from the lockdowns and pandemic might be too fresh but I found it to be an enlightening and poignant documentary. Now that we are moving from a pandemic to endemic phase we need movies like this to chronicle what happened over the last 2 years and the price ordinary men and women paid for safety from the illness. Whether it was the right call or not is for others to decide but the cost was definitely a high one.
7 out of 10
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