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I believe this is one of the most poetic ways to talk about a Social problem that his hurting both Africa ,East Europe and the Western World. As a writer for African refugees(but at the end all Refugees carry the same Problems) I believe that Costa Gavras have not only pointed out the negative aspects but also the good. The film also shows the Sexual Exploitation that many young men have to face in order to survive their Clandestinity. In many occasions we see also the Work Labour Exploitation and the prejudice against the Newcomers., but at the same time there are also some "Mother Teresa" Elias played by Scarmacio portrays the struggle the refugees have to undergo not only in-front of the People but the awkward Laws the EU have set out ,giving them the Status of Law Offenders because without Documents. The Film is masterly Directed by Mr. Gavras who he himself found himself to be an Immigrant but in a different time when man was respected as Human Being. African Refugees News The story of Elias can with a bit of Fanthasy be compared to Ulisses Journey.The Eden, I may say was the Island were Ulysses first met his Troubles but gave him the Strenght to fight for his life. I recommend this Film to Sociolgists and People who want to know more about The Boat people and their Journey of Hope to a better Life
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very well written tale about the odyssey of an illegal immigrant into the European Union. Our hero arrives by boat on the shores of Greece, hides in a Luxury tourist resort called "Eden Resort" and after many adventures there travels to Paris to meet a magician with whom he made acquaintance in the tourist club. We witness the adventures of Elias, our hero, only to see through his eyes the different approaches of Europeans to illegal immigrants living and struggling in their midst. Excellent camera work, brilliant performance by Riccardo Scamarcio, masterful narration by Costa-Gavras. I recommend watching this strongly.
This tale of illegal migrants is masterfully told as a straight story
of events along the road to Paris. In order to illustrate many facets
of the illegal immigrant saga, the writers have gone out of their way
to include many more events, mishaps, and adventures that could
credibly happen to a single migrant. Some people may object to this,
but it serves to make this a more universal picture of events that can
overtake an exile.
The emphasis of the story-telling is not a political or social statement, it's a strikingly enjoyable film with excellent cinematography which nevertheless manages to raise many serious issues. It's a story of human adaptation to loss of home and lack of normal human contact.
The protagonist says little because he can hardly speak French or English. Language throughout the film is not very important as a result. The audience, like migrants themselves, sits through episodes in Arabic, Greek, French, German, and English.
Along this rootless journey, he strikes up relationships ambiguous relationships along the road, mainly warm and yet fleeting - particularly the toy-boy episode at the start. There are many little subtle moments in the film, each making powerful comments about human moral choices under duress.
Combining suspense, drama, and subtly thought provoking episodes, this is another lasting film from Costa Gavras.
Greek-born, long-time Paris resident filmmaker Costa-Gavras (of the
classic political thriller Z) had grand ambitions in making Eden Is
West/Eden à l'ouest. He engaged veteran playwright and screenwriter
Jean-Claude Grumberg to write the dialogue. He also recruited Italian
heartthrob Ricardo Scamarcio, charismatic and appealing as Elias, the
mostly silent, Chaplinesque, yet gorgeous lead character, an illegal of
no specific nationality (when he briefly speaks his own tongue, it's a
made-up language) aiming through thick and thin to get to Paris. A very
modern story meant to engage universal sympathies was the aim.
But in the event, Elias' adventures seem little more than a motley series of improvisations, some lurid, some hairy, some comical, unable to form into anything lastingly memorable, touching, or meaningful. Scamarcio shows himself an excellent mime and is sympathetic throughout. Elias is a chameleon whose ability to insert himself into almost every situation he enters borders on the fantastic. When he talks about the film, Costa-Gavras mentions globalization, the exploitation of immigrants, world poverty, the wanderings of Ulysses. But 'Eden Is West' winds up being mostly just the picaresque tale of a young charmer, attractive to men and women, trusted by all, endlessly resilient, surviving on minimal sleep and a diet of hastily grabbed croissants and gulps of coffee, shedding garments and identities with equal alacrity. And that's all very well, but so what? If this is 'Candide,' it's 'Candide' without the enlightenment or the political savvy.
Elias' adventures begin when he jumps off a boat full of illegals as the coast guard approaches, and is one of several young men who lands, alive, on a posh island resort called "Eden" that has nude bathing as one of its entertainments. The film holds our attention and sets the theme: Elias is always in danger of getting found out and hauled away. We hold our breath as he runs just ahead of the cops or security. Awekening the next morning on the island, he strips naked to fit in, turns into a bellboy by donning an "Eden" jacket, get kissed by a gay hotel host, is forced to repair a jammed toilet by an Israeli, and is adopted as a bed-mate by horny German widow Christina (Juliane Koehler) during a spectacular rainstorm. This resort sequence is slickly done, more extended and more emotionally engaging than the precipitous road picture that soon follows. But it also reads as a segment out of a soft-core B picture: in terms of setting tone and focus, it gets things off to an unpromising start. Things are too easy and too random. The first twenty minutes show the flaws of the whole 110-minute film. Costa-Gavras is adept at convincingly establishing his kaleidoscopic sequence of milieus. But not so good at making a logical arc of the adventures.
Elias' ability to fall easily into any role leads him to serve not only as a hotel underling and as Christina's lover, but also as the assistant of the Eden resort's German resident magician, Nick Nickelby (Ulrich Tukur). Later he escapes the resort and finds himself working for a traveling vendor, recruited at a clandestine electronics recycling factory, and donning various disguises to evade the cops. He's a fugitive, cut-rate Felix Krull manqué, and there's the suspicion from the start that all these things are temptations the delay this Ulysses from finding his Ithaka--which may be the Paris nightclub where Nick Nicholby tells him he usually works. Nickelby says, "If you come to Paris, come and see me," and through his travels, Elis keeps struggling to get this sentence in French memorized, and to make it to the Paris nightclub and the magician. Nobody knows his language, and his hold on French is shaky; hence the value of Scamarcio's expressive mouth and big, soulful eyes.
It's hard to see what the point is of the rich, squabbling Greek couple (Ieroklis Mihailidis and Annie Loulou) or the gang of gypsies who at first think him one of theirs, or the louche pair of German truckers (Antoine Monot, Florian Martens) who leave him off at a crossroads between the routes to Hamburg and to Paris. More adventures and narrow escapes follow, and Elias does eventually make it to the City of Light and find the magician.
Apparently Costa-Gavras meant to keep his treatment of an illegal's travails on the way to gainful employment in the European Union lighthearted, but the various episodes just aren't memorable or meaningful enough. This is a great role for Ricardo Scamarcio, or might have been; unfortunately the project seems too ill conceived to have lasting value.
Eden à l'ouest opened in Paris February 11, 2009 to mediocre reviews. It was shown as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, March 2009. 110 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Elias (Riccardo Scamarcio) is an illegal immigrant trying to sneak into
France by boat. Yet when the boat is spotted by the coast guard Elias
jumps off the side of the boat and is separated from his friend. He
washes up on a resort in France and then has to sneak around the island
impersonating workers. He eventually meets a magician who briefly
offers him work in a stage show and also tells him to come and find him
in Paris. What follows is a road trip as Elias has to rely on the
kindness of strangers to help him arrive at the city of lights.
The opening scenes to this film, directed by Costa Gavras, onboard an immigrant boat, are easily the best of the entire film. The imagery of the immigrants literally ripping up their identities and tossing their papers into the ocean is powerful and symbolic. Yet the journey that follows after this is a rather uninteresting one. This is not a highly dramatic or emotive examination of migration but more the equivalent of a chase movie or a road trip. Much of the film revolves around Elias stealing people's clothes and then being chased by police. Once you realise that the film has very little to say beyond this in its narrative, the monotony of these scenes becomes clear. Although the visualisation of poverty in the film is sometimes apparent, it is treated shallowly.
There are several bizarre moments in this film that do not seem to fit with the initial concept of immigration. The subplot involving a magician is by far the film's most tactless idea. Why Elias would volunteer to be in a stage show when he does not want to draw attention to himself is uncertain and the ending, which involves the magician giving out a magic wand, is also improbable and out of sorts with the gritty realism of the opening scenes. A moment too where French people gather in a community watch to hunt down illegal immigrants, as Elias is cornered and sexually assaulted, remains utterly bizarre.
As a road movie the film fails because of the lack of character development. We never learn anything about Elias, such as where he came from. Thus it is difficult to know what he has experienced before and what is new to him on this journey. With very little dialogue it is difficult for his character to reflect on these events. We needed care about his character more. It feels like a more hollow film when compared to more sophisticated examples of the genre, such as The Motorcycle Diaries. A more conventional aspect of a road trip genre is engaging in a number of quirky characters that can affect ones journey. There are few relationships in this film. The most memorable one is Elias' intimate affair with a woman who says that she has a family somewhere. Yet this has very little impact on the remainder of the film once it fades.
Eden is West is not a particularly memorable or interesting film, just one that is occasionally brought to life by brief moments of action. As a road movie it suffers from its lack of development and memorable characters. What seems like an initially serious and personal film deteriorates into something that is hollow and one dimensional.
The main character isn't only innocent and naive, but he also is
portrayed as good natured as it gets. Now you could argue if that
really is possible or if it really works story-wise. But you have to
suspend your disbelief here early on. The movie is jumping from one
scene to the next, changing many locations and therefor never really
builds an emotional connection with the viewer. While the segments are
nice and good, the whole experience isn't as good as the sum of it's
It gets even more irritating, when almost every cliché get's played out in the story, letting the main character go through every possible roller-coaster ride an (illegal) immigrant can go through. Unfortunately it doesn't mix as well as one might think (pace and rhythm is all over the place and not in a good sense).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a bad film. I choose it cause of Costa-Gavras and the "official selection" of Brisbane and Melbourne film festivals. What a mistake, Riccardo should end his acting career immediately. He exaggerates every little emotion and reaction. But it is even worse, it's like seeing a bad actor trying to play a bad actor. And the film is full of over-acted clichés, like a wife traveling single looking for sex, German homosexuals driving trucks, an "ordinary" man having oral sex with Elias, an unhappy elderly Spanish couple, a rich nice french widow etc. It's just to much. Directly when a new scene appears you know how it is going to end. Costa Gavras must have told every actor to exaggerate their acting. Can't believe how a film starting off pretty good can add stupid scenes one after another until the even more crazy and unsatisfying ending. I do hope there will come a good film about the same subject, since the boat refugees and immigration into Europe make a great scene for storytelling. Maybe the production was low cost, it could explain the failure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've seen some pretty dreadful movies about illegal immigration latelythe eternally wooden Raoul Bova in the sanctimonious and superficial "Io, l'Altro" (I, the Other), for example, or Philippe Lioret's depressing and pedantic "Welcome"but Verso L'Eden/Eden à l'Ouest is pure and unadulterated rubbish. Here's my thing: Riccardo Scamarcio is a terrible actor. No, I mean, some actors are bad in a way that makes you embarrassed to watch them. Others are bad in the way that makes you feel embarrassed for the other people in the theater. And then there's Scamarcio, who belongs to that category of actors who make you feel embarrassed to be alive. Scamarcio launched his career, if we want to use that word, playing romantic leads in dimwitted teen comedies. Now and then, for reasons known only to the directors whose children Scamarcio's agent evidently kidnapped and threatened to murder, Scamarcio was then also chosen for roles in serious movies. Let me correct that: he got roles in movies that weren't "if you're IQ is above 40 you're too smart to enter this theater" comedies or "compared to this, a Hallmark card is freakin' Wuthering Heights" romances. Whether the movies were serious is up for discussion. But Scamarcio is sort of like beigehe goes with anything. It doesn't matter to him what kind of movie you put him in; he's happy to trot out his repertory of three facial expressions (ooh! and did you notice? He has green eyes!) in any known genre. From a movie-goer's point of view, the more Scamarcio has to "act," though, the uglier things tend to get. In Verso L'Eden/Eden à l'Ouest, he's supposed to be an illegal immigrant of indeterminate origin who arrives in Greece from an unnamed country, hoping to travel to Paris and find work. So there are like, *layers*, you get me? And Scamarcio doesn't do layers. Guy chasing a girl who doesn't love him? Got it covered. Guy who betrays the girl he loves, but is forgiven in the end? No problem. Guy who agrees to help his best gal-pal win the guy of her dreams, but ends up sweeping her off her feet instead? In his sleep. But don't ask him to something complicated like pretend to be of a different nationality, get washed up on a beach in Greece, and spend the ensuing weeks outrunning illegal-immigrant posses, police dogs, and con-men in pursuit of some private (never articulated) dream. Director Costa-Gavras, meanwhile, either forgot whether he was making a comedy, a sex farce, or a dramaor else he simply decided he'd pushed Scamarcio about as far as he could. He certainly threw continuity to the wind: one minute Scamarcio is in Greece, the next minute he's in Italy, then he's in Germanydon't blink or you'll miss all those borders. The result is a series of side-splitting scenes in which Scamarcio gets caught in a nudist colony, is mistaken for a bellboy, beds a babe or three, fends off the advances of gay truckers, and engages in at least a couple of foot chases through the city streets with the Keystone Cops. This is absolutely the most superficial, unserious, insultingly naive film about immigration ever made, and Scamarcio (did I mention he has green eyes?) lights it up with every single one of his 15 watts of charisma. Costa-Gavras ought to be writhing in shame. As for Scamarcio, he's pretty much made it clear that he's beyond all that.
I admit that it was the director's name that made me choose this film
from the selection of international films offered by Qantas in their
on-board entertainment system on my flight home.
The initial sequence of illegal immigrants on a boat was haunting as they ripped their identification cards and threw them into the water. As authorities came to arrest them, we meet Elias who dove into the sea to escape. He was washed ashore on a nudist beach resort. And from then you know that things would turn for the ludicrous.
It is a cat and mouse game as Elias tries to find his was to Paris to search for a magician who told him to look for him there. On that flimsy premise, the movie became a road trip where Elias encounters and interacts with people who had various problems. Elias was always just the witness of events, but we never find out anything about his past. We do not even know from which country he came from! I kept on watching the film because I wanted to see how Elias would finally fare when he reaches Paris. However when he does meet the magician in Paris, the expected grand finale of Elias' exodus was nowhere to be seen. The crazy visual gimmick that Costa Gavras did on the Eiffel Tower in the ending even made the whole movie look stupid.
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