A Drowning Man


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

A Drowning Man
"Talent behind the camera is matched by talent in front."

Only at the end is it titled, only at the end with the waves. All the way through a certain power, an uneasy balance of camera and motion, proximity as proxy for intimacy. The man drowning is 'The Kid', Atef Alshafel, out of his depth. Athens, at one point the Parthenon in the background, from one hill, to another. There are gulfs here, voids.

That camera, at the behest of writer/director Mahdi Fleifel, the unsteady bobble of handheld, framed closely to the kid, to the small borrowings, to the slow decline, until it isn't. Vasco Viana's camera and Dario Swade's sound bring more from this small story than might be though, aided by a piece (The Great God Pan Is Dead) by the late Johan Johansson - not the only thing this film shares with A Man Returned. The Palestinian experience in Greece is not an easy one, neither before nor after.

Copy picture

The camera roves with our protagonist, but when it isn't it's all the more powerful. The way action is framed after a request for a 'favour', the arrival of the score at the riverside, these intrusions of the posed make the rest more convincing. Metaphor abounds, or scope for it - a tortoise at the riverside might not be being helped, just moved. Whether that's halfway there or halfway closer than that is an exercise for other readers. A powerful portrait of desperation, haunting, it's as close an observation of isolation as one might hope for.

Talent behind the camera is matched by talent in front. There's perhaps just one scene without Atef's hunched shoulders, or anxious eyes, one space over which his hopes are not lost, perhaps - abandoned, floating, again.

Reviewed on: 15 Feb 2018
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Alone and far from home, The Kid makes his way through a strange city looking for the means to get through his day.

Director: Mahdi Fleifel

Writer: Mahdi Fleifel

Starring: Atef Alshafei, Jalal Qaniry, Thymios Koukios, Rebih El-Saleous

Year: 2017

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: Denmark, UK, Greece


GSFF 2018

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