Monday, 24 March 2014
London River (2009)
OK, first things first; I tuned in for this on BBC2 last night for Brenda Blethyn but what I stayed for was Sotigui Kouyaté, because my word, that performance is just so heartbreaking, empathetic and dignified it just resonates deeply with every lovingly captured shot of his worn and weary face. His death a year after this film was made is a sad loss to cinema.
London River is a film with something to say delivered on an intimate and personal level. In other words its the kind of film I love. The setting is the 7/7 London bombings and its aftermath, which sees two strangers; a mother from Guernsey (Blethyn) arrive in the capital looking for her daughter and a father, an African Muslim (Kouyaté) looking for his son.
The dark and bewildering moments of the immediate aftermath are sensitively handled and reminded me of my own personal reaction to the event as I watched it play out on my TV, hurriedly calling people I knew in the London area to make sure they were OK. Equally affecting and authentic is the way London is depicted for both outsiders - as a strange and bustling downbeat multi-cultural but totally grey world. Indeed the whole film is a thoughtful and compassionate experience which transcends what could have been a rather contrived relationship between the two leade to deliver something rather special that helps to highlight the ultimate message of a common bond between us all, regardless of religion, nationality or ethnicity.
Director Rachid Bouchareb's film is one of the most touching and sincere fictional reactions to the world events of recent years. This is low key but with a big heart.