Review by Dan Skip Allen
Focus Features has done a nice job lately of bringing different diverse voices to the screen. They focus (pun intended) on giving a voice to the voiceless through their films. Just this year alone they have had some interesting films coming out such as Land and Boogie, last year Emma. and Promising Young Woman. Well, the latest film from the arthouse studio is Limbo, from another new voice in the film industry: Ben Sharrock.
Limbo depicts the story of four refugees who are hold up on an island in Scotland. Amir El-Masry plays a musician, Vikash Bhai plays his buddy. Also, Ola Orebiyi and Kwabena Ansah are two Africans, one will end up cleaning and the other has dreams of being a footballer. They are all biding their time in Scotland hoping to get their freedom.
One of the only ways these people have of contacting friends or loved ones is a payphone. We hear about these people's lives outside of this refugee camp, or house if you will. One of them has family in war-torn Syria who he worried about. His mother keeps him updated on their plight as well. The others are trying to flee from the authorities or are just happy not being in the Middle East. They all have different reasons for being where they are. The fierce weather doesn't help make things easier.
The setting of Scotland is a beautiful one indeed. During the summer, there are some amazing vistas, and in the fall and winter, there is fog, rain, and snow at times. This makes the cinematography in this some of the best you'll see this year. In a sense, it changes with the mood of the film. As things get darker and colder in the story, so does the atmosphere of the film. It's a very good job by Sharrock and the cinematographer, Nick Cooke.
Sharrock had to create a setting that goes with this dark story. The life of a refugee can be pretty hard. They are in strange and different countries where they don't know anybody and don't have any money. The musician has an Oud to entertain people and that could be his way to make some money. He just has to believe in himself and realize this is his lot in life. His friend from the Middle East is on his side as well. They could help each other in the long run. They just need to trust one another that's the key.
The acting in this film is good, not great. The subtitles make for some of the drama to get lost in translation. Despite that, there is some good dialogue, which causes some real drama for the characters. This cast is serviceable in their various roles, especially the musician. The director makes him the lead character in the story so everything revolves around his story, on-screen and off. That was a good decision on his part.
Limbo is a good film about a subject matter rarely seen. It has some gorgeous cinematography in due effect to the changing of the seasons and weather. The acting is okay from most but better than good from the musician. The director Sharrock gets everything he can out of this script and the actors saying the dialogue. The thing is this story can only go so far and it shows at the end of the film. Like the Scottish island it's set on, it is landlocked with nowhere to go.
Limbo hits theaters on April 30.