Tuesday, March 26, 2013


2009, France, directed by Philippe Lioret

Although it has its share of narrative contrivances, Welcome is, at its core, a carefully observed character study that brings together a teenage Kurdish refugee and a French swimming instructor (Vincent Lindon, as reliable as ever -- craggy, rumpled, gravel-voiced from too many cigarettes) when the young man comes up with a hare-brained scheme to swim the Channel. The opening is especially strong, giving us an unpleasant insight into the realities of clandestine migration and the ways in which the system treats migrants (the system, in this case, extending to the entire community of Calais, which has been transformed by a culture of fear). The missteps come later -- as with most films of this type, the focus is on the European/American who befriends the immigrant, likely partly a reflection of the realities of film financing, but it tends to push the film back on old clichés -- the bedraggled westerner given unexpected insight into his life through contact with the exotic.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States