Café au Lait / Métisse
Year of release: 1993
Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
Café au lait is an ethnic romantic comedy that centres on Lola, a beautiful light-brown-skinned woman, of Caribbean descent and Christian, and her two lovers, Jamal, an African diplomant’s son and a Muslim, and Félix, a white, working-class Jew. She is expecting a baby but she is unsure which of her two lovers fathered the child and enlists the support of both to help her through pregnancy and motherhood.
The film ends with the birth of the baby but remains equivocal about the issue of paternity since the baby and the colour of his skin are never shown. The final tableau frames the two proud fathers bending over Lola and their son, suggesting the formation of yet another unconventional ménage à trois-type family. However, Kassovitz’s primary concern is not to bring about a narrative conclusion to the ostensible plot. As the film critic Roger Ebert (1994) notes: ‘it matters less who is the father of the child than how the three characters will learn to relate to one another, and [Kassovitz] uses their ménage as a springboard for dialogue about race and racism in modern France’. Kassovitz achieves this through playing with preconceived stereotypes of race and class