Quiet in San Fran11 May 2008
2002, U.K.
director: Michael Winterbottom

In This World is a movie that Michael Winterbottom made on a shoestring about a pair of Afghan refugees who set out for London from Pakistan to find a better life. The movie follows Jamal and Enayat, played by non-actors, through Iran, Turkey, Italy, and France, using digital cameras to capture real locations and events that it uses to augment its fictional story. The story is so worthwhile and relevant that I almost feel guilty for thinking that the movie is a little shallow. We learn very little about the places that Jamal and Enayat pass through, which is probably true of fleeing refugees, too, but we also don't get a sense of the life they're leaving in Pakistan. This is an important omission for narrative reasons because someone facing constant danger is probably constantly asking himself whether it's worth it, and we can only assume that it is because the two keep pressing on. But it's also an important omission because the value of a movie like this is that it can reveal lives that we're ignorant of. The Iranian movies of Samira Makhmalbaf and her father Mohsen cover similar ground with greater depth, but the best comparison I can think of is La Promesse, the Belgian movie by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne about the lives of immigrants and the people they rely on for food, shelter, work, and transportation. La Promesse paints a clear picture of the pressures applied to all of the people involved. In This World does have some chilling sequences, and both of the main characters are likable and expressive, but the story's potential is far greater than what the movie has accomplished.

Posted by davis | Link
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