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 and Artyom have been returned to Stonehaven after trying to walk to London]
Can you confirm your name, please?
You should have registered here yesterday. This is a general information pack. These are your food and toiletry vouchers for the week.
But, I don't need them. I want to go to London.
No, you can't do that.
You've applied for political asylum.
Yes, and so?
All applicants must stay in their designated holding areas. Look, it's in here.
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Hot on the heels of news that the british are reputed to be the most rascist nation in the EU comes this elucidation of why that may be the case. A russian woman comes to england to meet her fiance and is only allowed in to the country if she applies for refugee status. told she has to stay in a detention centre for a year and a half and given only food vouchers and terrible accomodation to live on. At this point the movie could turn into a kafkaesque fable but instead is an ultra-naturalistic study of live in british emigration centres.
It's a film that's cautiously optimistic about human nature, as a deus ex machina in the form of sweet, loving Paddy Consadine comes to save her from what he himself describes as a hell hole. This annoyed me a little bit; it seemed to be putting across the message that the english are really tolerant towards foreign immigrants and that it's "The System" that mistreats them. This seems a bit fanciful to me.
One other thing that annoyed was that the only person to be hurt was an internet pornographer who pays the woman the equivalent of a month's wages back home for about an hour's striptease work. Is it really him that deserves to be hurt, and not the government, the immigration authorities, and the editors of rabble-rousing right-wing newspapers?
But this is a warm, generous, beautifully shot, human film that i fear will never be seen by the people who need to see it most.
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