Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome (2009) NR - 3 Stars

Touching story about a young teenage Kurdish refugee from Iraq, who meets a French swim instructor to learn to swim. Bilal, has lead a rough life, escaping from Iraq and coming all this way only to be separated from his girlfriend. Her family has moved her to England and Bilal is unable to get across the border to join her. All he can see is Dover, England across the channel and know he is stuck looking across the water. The only thing he can set his sights on is to learn to swim well enough to cross the English Channel and get back to his girlfriends arms. In French with subtitles, the story is good and the acting superb. However, I wish the film would have showed more about Bilal's life before he reached France and got separated from his girlfriend. Questions weren't answered like, why does her father forbid their relationship? I think that may have helped me root for him a little more.

A 17 year old boy has spent the last three months trying to get to his girlfriend Mina (Derya Ayverdi), who's family has relocated her to England. Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), is now stuck in Calais, France. Without papers, he is unable to cross the border into England. He's tried stowing away in passing trucks, but ended up getting caught and sent back to the harbor. He meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), a retired swim instructor who's won many metals in his sport. Bilal has a small amount of money and pays Simon for lessons to teach him to swim. He believes it is his only way to get back to Mina is by swimming across the English Channel to get to her. Simon is going through loss of his own as he and his wife Marion (Audrey Dana), has just divorced him. Needing to fill the void in his life, he hides Bilal in his house for a few days. But Simon is now in trouble for harboring an alien. Bilal does not want to cause any trouble for Simon who's been so nice to him so when the police come back, Bilal is gone and so is Simon's wet suit. Since Mina's father is forcing her to marry another, Bilal makes a quick decision to attempt the 10 hours of swimming to make it across the channel into England.

Director: Philippe Lioret
Writers: Olivier Adam, Philippe Lioret, Emmanuel Courcol
Producer: Christophe Rossignon
I viewed 2/11

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