Bilal is 17 years old, a Kurdish boy from Iraq. He sets off on an adventure-filled journey across Europe. He wants to get to England to see his love who lives there. Bilal finally reaches Calais, but how do you cover 32 kilometers of the English Channel when you can't swim? The boy soon discovers that his trip won't be as easy as he imagined... The community of struggling illegal aliens in Calais is captured with authenticity, from the point of view of people who arrived there knowing nothing about France. This immigrant drama, with wonderful performances by the actors, is a strong story which uses documentary austerity and minimalist style to create a great emotional impact.Written by
Warsaw Film Festival
When the Kurdish boy Bilal, on the run from war-torn Iraq, is caught trying to cross the border into Englad, he ends up stranding in Calais. Here he meets Simon(in the process of divorcing his wife), who is as taken aback by the 17-year-old's sheer determination to meet back up with his girlfriend, Mira, in London as we are, and agrees to teach him how to swim. Yes, this kid wants to cross the channel. This is about love, the criminalization of refugees and people fighting against seemingly impossible odds. I have yet to watch anything else by this director, but now I will be on the lookout for it. He correctly realizes that this story is powerful enough, and thus does not need any manipulation for us to be deeply affected by it. Everything in this is underplayed, merely showed, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. The music is minimal(that, or it was so subtle that I did not notice it most of the time) and subtle, with only a single use of a tense piece(and it was still not overbearing). Other than that, it consists of a soft, sad piano, a sort of "voice" to the helplessness of the situation. While the young couple are seldom granted even direct communication(it tends to be second-hand), we believe in their deep feelings for one another. The acting is excellent all the way, and the characters are well-written, and like everything else in this, credible. Granted, this only really shows one side to the argument... still, no one in this feels "evil". Another great thing, and one that also helps it be more removed from Hollywood, is that everyone speaks the language that makes sense for the situation. Their native tongue, or English if they're talking to someone who won't otherwise understand them. There is a little sensuality, moderate violence and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to everyone who can comprehend it(maybe no one under 11). 8/10
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