Go Home

****1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Go Home
"Razan Madhoon's film is a gut-punch, a wrenching."

The first words "Hi mum, I have arrived." is there a more translatable sentiment? It might be the first words any of us say, not just on the telephone through the medium of voice notes. Polyglot and bounded. The cold material of security checks. The galvanised steel of railings on paths. The expectations of queues. "Could you please line up straight?" and in that frustration a layered sense of nationality, propriety. "We need to get the numbers down," but these numbers have faces, photographs, handwritten forms on that grade of paper that speaks of bureaucracy. 305 in black on blue. That's five times 61. You can make numbers out of any other numbers. You can reduce anything to statistics. The line between the impersonal and the dehumanising.

"I want a home that is welcoming."

The line. A boundary, a point, to stretch the geometry, of conflict. Assumption and systems. The cold comfort of mathematics. The retreat to process. There are others, other places, other rules, other fences. A window is still a wall. "In due course" means nothing and everything. Something can be transparent and still meaningful, Homer was blind but he knew the sea had colour. All boundaries do.

Razan Madhoon's film is a gut-punch, a wrenching. It is hard to credit that this is only a second. There are 25 in the cast, ten individual, three with names. Familiar face Brian Pettifer is one of a pyramid of people that builds Go Home into a two-handed testament. The baggage here is all emotional. Not just without suitcases, these are spaces where people once were. Trunkless, forgotten. Fellow travellers in an ancient land. Behold a system that works as intended, ye poor and huddled, and despair. Haya (Joelle Zaghbour) and Amelia (Joanna Kaczynska) enter by different doors, leave by different means, but are each within the same machine. One caught close and fraught by Julian Schwanitz's photography, the production and costume design of Andy Drummond and Kirstin Rodger perfectly capturing a particular flavour of grey. Blue and white and so on against a differently red wall. An architecture of authority, but not the sterile projection of power that informs execution chambers, nor the somewhat sterility of abattoir floors. More the tired tiers of Post Office counters, the gatekeeping hostility of GP practise receptionists. The Pol Pots of petty bourgeoisie, the parable of the fasces with garden canes. Imagine a face crushed by a dry scone forever.

Over the credits voices, a Babel. There's mention of Scotland, it's filmed entirely here, under the auspices of various bodies including Digicult. It is set though in another place, somewhere near London, part of that parallel country of mid-tier commercial estates. Grey-belts whose cost-cut-corners speak to trousered brown envelopes, an endless out of town out of sight. To look upon it so implacably, to find in those intersections that might be named after aeroplanes or rivers or colonial administrators the places where, however roundabout, paths are the same, is a triumph.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2022
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When a young Palestinian woman tries to claim asylum in the UK, she faces the indifference of British bureaucracy.

Director: Razan Madhoon

Year: 2021

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

GSFF 2022

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