Friday, April 30, 2021

Movie with Abe: Limbo

Limbo
Directed by Ben Sharrock
Released April 30, 2021

Leaving a person’s home comes with many emotions. Even if the experience of living there was plagued by negativity and malicious forces, there can still be a melancholy when that lifelong tie is severed. The opportunity to relocate to somewhere with a promise of a better future is rarely a simple process, and the time spent waiting to achieve success or some semblance of permanence may hinder a recognition that optimism and fortune still lie ahead. There’s no better word to describe that state of being than the title of this film, one which paints such a portrait of the in-between time and state of mind.

Omar (Amir El-Masry) is a musician from Syria seeking asylum. While he awaits a decision on his request, he lives on a Scottish island far from any other civilization. He befriends Farhad (Vikash Bhai) and other fellow asylum seekers as he struggles to cope with the slow-moving monotony that has replaced the danger he used to feel back home. Frequent phone conversations with his mother, who is never positive about his future, and a complicated relationship with his brother haunt him as he learns about European culture and what to expect from an existence that for him may never come.

This film, in the same way that Omar is made to feel by the lack of any news about the progress of his application, is in no rush to get anywhere. Scenes move particularly slowly as Omar takes in the silence and blandness around him. The classes he takes simulate scenarios that feel all too distant and unlikely, and Omar’s trip to a grocery store that sells only ketchup and mustard, not any of the familiar spices he seeks, remind him of his isolation. But he does also forge productive connections, like with the initially cold but gradually inviting kindred spirit in the Pakistani man who runs that same grocery store.

This film works best because of El-Masry’s muted performance, one that allows him to observe events around him just as the audience does, inviting them to appreciate them from his perspective. He blends in well with the scenery that has a particular beauty to it, but only if time is truly spent to stop and appreciate it, something that can rarely be done when hope is grim. This film manages to be particularly poignant in its depiction of Omar’s ties to his family and his home, enriching a decent narrative with a powerful and resonant finish.

B+

No comments: