The Last Resort

The Last Resort

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

At a time when New British Cinema is churning out pseudo American pap, it takes a Polish documentary maker to show what can be done on a miniscule budget in a depressed south coast town.

Last Resort fits into the contemporary fascination with asylum seekers, although writer/director Pawel Pawlkowski has no intention of scoring political points. What interests him are the quirky characteristics that raise people above emotional and cultural despair.

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Tanya is Russian and comes to London to be with her English fiance. She brings her 10-year-old son (Artiom Strelnikov), who thinks his mother is making a big mistake and resents being dragged about like some pet animal.

"Be my friend," she says. "Trust me."

The unseen fiance doesn't want to know and she is left at the mercy of Immigration Services, which means a police escort to Margate where she is dumped in an unfurnished high rise apartment, with the prospect of 18 months living off food vouchers, surrounded by strangers who don't speak any recognisable language.

The film has a rare organic feel to it, as if Tanya's story evolves naturally from the situation she finds herself in.

Her character is beautifully realised by Dina Korzun, emotionally insecure ("I always need to be in love"), angry ("This city is like punishment for me") and quietly determined.

If this was Hollywood, sentimentality would regurgitate over a theme of parboiled feminism. As it is, Pawlkowski has retained the qualities that made Eastern European movies so memorable in the old days.

It is not bureaucracy's rule-playing, or the failure of democratic hyperbole, that matters here. It is the people and how they are with each other and what they do to survive the system.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2004
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The Last Resort packshot
A Russian and her son strive to cope with claiming political asylum in the UK.
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Director: Paul Pawlikowski

Writer: Rowan Joffe

Starring: Dina Korzun, Artyom Strelnikov, Paddy Considine, Steve Perry, Perry Benson, Katie Drinkwater, Dave Bean, Adrian Scarborough, David Auker, Bruce Byron, James Trevelyan

Year: 2000

Runtime: 75 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2000

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