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Tania, a young Russian woman who lives illegally in Belgium with her 13-year-old son Ivan. Constantly on her guard, she dreads police checks until the day she is arrested. Mother and son are separated and Tania is placed in a detention center. She will do anything to be reunited with her son but won't manage to avoid threats of deportation. Written by
Illégal is a movie in the realistic style we know from the Dardenne brothers in Belgium or Jacques Audiard in France. This means a very 'unpolished' film, with lots of hand-held camera-work. The camera follows the lead actors closely, which causes a very intense, real life-effect.
The movie tackles a difficult issue: the forced expulsion of illegal immigrants. A few years ago, these expulsions caused a heated debate in Belgium after the death of Semira Adamu, an African immigrant who didn't survive the violence used during her expulsion. Her death was the reason of a thorough revision of the expulsion procedures.
Illégal is a movie with a message. The message being that forced expulsions are still an inhuman way of treating people. This message is shaped into the story of Tania, a Russian immigrant, and her 13-year old son. They are struggling to find their way in Belgian society, but unfortunately Tania is arrested and locked up, pending her removal from Belgian soil.
The movie has already met with criticism from the Belgian immigration authorities, who claim the way expulsions are shown is not in line with reality. Still, it is a good film, with very impressive acting by Belgian actress Anne Coesens, who is married to director Olivier Masset-Depasse. Because of her intense acting, you can almost feel the fear and desperation of people like Tania. That's no small thing to achieve.
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