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Tanya arrives in London with her son Artyom, expecting to be met by her boyfriend. When he doesn't show and immigration wants to send her back to Russia, she asks for political asylum to buy some time. She has no idea that this will consign them for at least a year to a detention center, a fenced "city" near an abandoned seaside amusement park. Once there, realizing her boyfriend will never help her, she just wants to go home, but withdrawing the petition for asylum takes months. She's approached by pornographers inviting her to strip on line for cash; she's befriended by Alfie, a clerk at a convenience store at the center. She's a dreamer; what can she do? Written by
[Tanya's English fiancé, Mark Wallow, has failed to meet her and Artyom at Heathrow]
I'm sorry... just for... few... wo-words. I need political as-asylum.
Yes. Because... because my life is very dangerous in Moscow.
[Watching through a glass partition]
Okhuyela chto li? (Has she fucking lost it?)
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Good story, but the director's vision actually got in the way of our engagement. ** (out of four)
LAST RESORT / (2001) ** (out of four)
By Blake French:
"Last Resort" suffers from exactly the opposite problem that agonized "Surveillance." That film had a really interesting style, part documentary, part detective story, totally photographed with a variety of digital cameras, giving the movie an authentic sense. The movie failed because the filmmakers did not put enough energy or effort into the script. "Last Resort" has a heartbreaking, oddly engaging story, but its style keeps the viewer distant and distraught. As I left this movie, I felt cheated out of what could have been a very good film.
Pawel Pavlikovsky, the Polish writer and director, certainly avoided the usual clichés involved here. He creates focused characters who define their environment and determine their own future. Most of the movie is unpredictable and hidden, we are unsure where things are headed from the first shot. Pavlikovsky combines psychological truth and realism in the film's visual style; there are frequent switches between hand-held shots and static composed wide shots. It's as if the characters are submerged in a dreamlike documentary reality.
The movie tells the story of Tanya (Dina Korzun), and her son Artiom (Artiom Strelnikov). Tanya leaves Moscow with her street wise 10 year old to meet her fiance in England. When he is not at the airport, she requests political asylum. The two confused individuals find themselves virtually imprisoned in a deserted seaside resort where all refugees are forced to reside. There are no privileges, no money, and no means of escape.
With failed attempts to get a hold her alleged finance, Tanya finds herself in a strange relationship with a nice man named Alfie (Paddy Considine). Tanya is not really eager to start a new relationship though, being betrayed by her fiancee and all. Her complications deepen when Artiom becomes friends with the wrong kids, and as a means of making money to pay for her passport, she becomes involved with an Internet pornographer, challenging her morality and conscience, as well as jeopardizing her relationship with Alfie.
Dina Korzun's performance is interesting because she bases every scene on the fact that she is a stranger in an unfamiliar area. The rest of the characters cannot really do much with the material because it is so focused on the gimmick. Pawlikowski injects a fun subtle terror through a carnival funhouse atmosphere, but the movie never takes off with the material; success would be unequivocal if the film was created in a typical Hollywood fashioned rather than Pawlikowski's attempt at new and original filmmaking techniques.
This film has ample potential and an interesting premise, but it is so depressing when director's noble intentions get in the way of an otherwise captivating motion picture.
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