In This World

In This World


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The last time Michael Winterbottom confronted a contemporary international subject was with the compelling Welcome To Sarajevo in 1997. This is different, being a docudrama, using a handheld digital camera in far flung locations with an unprofessional cast and a script that sounds improvised.

It is the record of a gruelling journey undertaken by a 16-year-old Afghan orphan and his older cousin from North Western Pakistan to the Sangatte refugee camp and London. If you have ever been lost in a foreign land, you may recognise the feeling of fear and isolation, accompanied by danger, as Jamal and Enayatullah cross Iran, Turkey and France, are forced to trust strangers, unable to understand languages, although the boy speaks passable English, ever aware that in the mercenary world of people smuggling, life is cheaper than chocolate.

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In England illegal immigrants are treated like parasites on the hull of the welfare state. Winterbottom's film investigates the flip side, not as a political statement, but as a human story. The courage and desperation required to undertake such a journey cannot be understated. It makes bureaucratic booby traps, laid down by government civil servants at their final destination, cruel indeed.

In This World is not a title that says enough about what is happening here. The documentary feel of the film has a rough edge to it and there is no attempt at explanation when yet another sinister character emerges from the shadows demanding money, or changes their clothes to make them look less conspicuous on the streets of Tehran.

What the film shows in the yellow dusty light of late afternoon, as a battered pick up bounces over the dirt track, is how these desert people live. It is so alien to what the West expects that even cars appear as trespassers on the face of the moon.

This is far more uncompromising than Welcome To Sarajevo. It is a brave film about brave men. Winterbottom has taken risks for truth and if the result lacks a consistent plot projection, it reflects the uncertainty of not knowing whether tomorrow you die.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2003
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In This World packshot
Docudramatic journey of two Afghan refugees from the Pakistan border to London.
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Director: Michael Winterbottom

Writer: Tony Grisoni

Starring: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah, Imran Paracha, Hiddayatullah, Jamau

Year: 2002

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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