Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The measure of Asylum, the tale of a frustrated biodynamic farmer stuck in an immigration facility, is the name of the institution. If 'Dungwood Removal Centre' raises a laugh, then have at - this has got all sorts of wacky hijinx in store. If it doesn't, avoid - this is somewhat akin to parochial thematic sketch comedy, falling into many of the traps of 'alternative comedy' (it hasn't got any jokes).

Mihai Arsene is Alfred Islami, trying to set up a biodynamic farm in the room he shares with Andy Cheung's Wan Yun Ji. There are marriage plots, requests for potatoes, on occasion we see folk pacing like caged polar bears, a discussion as to the motive for becoming a biodynamic farmer; "too poor to buy poison." Arsene's delivery is with a deliberatly flat affect, but lines like "then I try suicide" don't grab when considered in the context of actual immigration detention centres and the miseries that they conceal. It's not quite Life Is Beautiful, but it manages many of the same discomforts without most of the subtlety.

If rubber-glove udders dangling from cows that are chairs is funny, then this is funny. If a joke like "what is red and not a tomato?" "the moon" is hilarity in two parts, then this is just that. If you resent things that seem to be trying too hard, that seek cheap laughs in difficult ground, then this is that too. Scattershot, lurching, and with some moments that verge on racial caricature, this is perhaps best avoided. Writer/Director Joern Utkilen was previously responsible for Little Red Hoodie, and there's perhaps something in the mixture of the grotesque and systemic depression. Let's call it an acquired taste, and be done with it.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2012
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Asylum packshot
A failed asylum seeker dreams or running a bio-dynamic farm.

Director: Joern Utkilen

Writer: Joern Utkilen

Starring: Mihai Arsene, Andy Cheung

Year: 2010

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: UK, Ireland


Glasgow 2012

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