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After traveling to London to check on their missing children in the wake of the 2005 terror attack on the city, two strangers come to discover their respective children had been living together at the time of the attacks. Written by
London River is a quietly powerful and thought-provoking drama surrounding the aftermath of the London 7-7-2005 bombings.
Brenda Blethyn, ever-watchable, is entirely believable as the distraught mother who cannot trace her daughter, when she sees news footage of the devastation, from her Guernsey home. On the other side of the coin is elderly, black and dread-locked Sotigui Kouyate, trying to contact his son, whom he walked out on when the boy was six, then having been working in France since.
Both end up searching in London, Blethyn doing the rounds of missing person posters and showing photos to everybody she can, in the hope of any piece of news. The paths of these two unlikely kindred spirits cross when it transpires that their two children may have been living together and taking Arabic classes, through their local mosque.
As you can imagine, there's quite a lot of cross-cultural clashes here, not just the black boy, white girl aspect, but also the Muslim element and the thorny issue, particularly at the time when the film is set; terrorism. Could they have been involved, too? The mother knows her daughter and knows she couldn't have been, but the same could not be said about the father...more food for thought.
There's good solid acting from both - Blethyn typically more blubbery and emotional whilst Kouyate, as the sort of wise old sage, takes things more pragmatically and thoughtfully. It's a strange mix if you were to walk in on the film half-way through; follow it from the start and it seems quite natural.
There's been comment that it's contrived in that Blethyn is suddenly able to speak the native French of Kouyate - I don't find that hard to believe at all, not only is she citizen of Guernsey, where French is their official other language but is also physically much closer to France than the U.K. Also, in the day that a woman of her age was educated, she (& myself) learnt a type of 'schoolboy' French - I could understand much of what was being said from my failed 'O' Level, back 30 years ago.
So, a good drama, for what it is. It certainly won't appeal to all, both in subject matter, nor in its slow-ish, measured pace. But for those who enjoy something a bit different, something that shines a new light, perhaps, on a recent piece of our history, plus the acting, then London River has a lot going for it. I viewed it on BBC1.
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