Belle Vie Review | A riveting tale of hope & struggle in pandemic

Cast: Cedric Nicolas, Ornella Samarco, Vincent Samarco, George Samarcos

Critics Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Director: Marcus Mizelle
Duration: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Release details: March 15th, 2022 – TV (PBS SoCal)
TVOD (US/Canada) : April 5th
iTunes (pre-order link here), Amazon, etc.


A much-loved Parisian-style bistro is located on Wilshire Boulevard on the West side of Los Angeles between a McDonalds and KFC. Belle Vie, once booming, struggles for survival through the pandemic. It is owned and operated by the charming and optimistic Vincent Samarco, who will do anything to keep his restaurant alive while 90,000 restaurants close down around the country. A place of community and hope, Belle Vie faces an uncertain future as Vincent gets creative and tries to adapt.


There isn’t a country, city, village or a soul on this planet that wasn’t affected by Corona Virus or COVID-19 that spread across the globe, forcing people indoors and a total shutdown everywhere on the planet. If corona didn’t affect your health, it affected livelihoods, in one way or the other, it got to us. Los Angeles was no different from the rest of world. This documentary is about Vincent Samarco, an immigrant who came to the city in 2016, from Paris and opened a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard on the West side of Los Angeles.

He explains how this location, was not ideal has his little bistro ‘Belle Vie’ stood between McDonalds and KFC that offered food at a fraction of cost, as compared to him. However, he builds it from scratch and it actually becomes a hit with the patrons.

But then the pandemic hits and takes away almost everything that he lived for. This is when the real struggle begins, and we see Vincent trying to stay positive and afloat. It is heart-breaking heart to see him work so hard, doing the heavy lifting, literally, only to be shut down again due to another outbreak of the virus. Not only him, but several restaurants around him also begin shutting down and pushing people, including Vincent over the brink of bankruptcy.

It’s a simple plot simple that is familiar and relatable. It grabs your attention and keeps holding it. Vincent comes across as the charming-positive-Frenchman, and his struggle comes across as all too real. There is a certain vibe about Vincent and his spirit, his fight for survival against all odds which is kind of endearing and hits home. Director Marcus Mizelle’s cleverly takes us through the ups and downs with his minimalistic storytelling skill. All the same, he also highlights the contrast between the scenic LA, and the life of the characters onscreen.

All in all, it’s a heartwarming tale of real people in real situations that all of us have lived through in the past two years. It’s a mirror of our own struggles and achievements seen through the eyes of Vincent.


Published by Reviewron

Senior Journalist with 14-years-experience at channels like Times Now, NewsX, Zoom and Radio City. Now, Rotten Tomatoes approved global critic for the Times of India and BBC India Correspondent in Dubai. News Presenter at Radio 4, Dubai This is my independent channel for clarity in chaos in News, Views, Reviews and vivid Experiences. Connect on Instagram @reviewron, Twitter @ronakkotecha and email

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