A comedy about Syrian refugees en route to London? Why not? Scottish director Ben Sharrock’s ‘Limbo’ crafts a film with very dry comedy and aching melancholy. In it, a young man, Omar (Amir El-Masry) is part of a group trapped in the Scottish isles. It’s sort of a halfway home for refugees. In there, they are in ‘limbo.’ Most of them have escaped the Syrian war, and is in the process of getting acclimated before plunging into their new homes (they are also waiting for their paperwork to be processed) Call it the Island created by red tape. Omar is an accomplished musician in Syria, and he is carrying with him his grandfather’s oud, which is a combination tambourine and guitar. Omar’s parents are in Istanbul, and his brother is left in Syria fighting the war. He is not only physically in limbo, he is emotionally hanging as well – a part of him wants to stay home and fight, another wants to be with his family, and another wants to move on in the world. Sharrok balances the comedy and absurdity and drama pretty well – you feel the longing in all their meanings here. Masry is great, able to show sadness in just his eyes, You find yourself smiling but also feeling his ache.
Valentine’s Week Pick
I have been wanting to see ‘Only You’ for a while now. Someone told me it’s a very romantic movie, and well, you know how I love those. It also stars Josh O’Connor, who I really liked in ‘God’s Own Country.’ And it is set in Glasgow, and the place is photographed beautifully. The Anglophile in me feasted on all of what I saw. The film starts out as a conventional romance – they meet cute fighting for a cab on New Year’s Eve, and they instantly fall for each other soundtracked by Elvis Costello’s ‘I Want You.’ So far, so good for the hopeful romantics like me. O Connor and Laia Costa have palpable chemistry – they sizzle on screen, and the film feels intimate – you can really sense the characters falling in love with each other. This comes early in the film, and I was trying to ascertain where the conflict will be – will the age differences between the characters really matter? I mean, this is 2020, no one cares about those things anymore.
That’s when the film falters for me. The couple tries to conceive a child and has a difficult time doing so. I started to not care about Costa’s Elena, who started to feel whiny and entitled. O’Connor is fine as the young man who adjusts to her whims, and he is a charismatic actor. But Costa is perhaps too good at conveying her frustration which translates to my frustration. I started to not care about what happens to the couple. I wanted Jake (O’Connor’s character) to wake up and leave Elena.
And when they finally separate, we get the last part of the movie. There’s a scene in a restaurant towards the end that is masterful in conveying in showing what happens to love after it gets to put through all the tests. This is a film that is a lot of times hard to look at, but it feels more real than anything I have seen recently.
Jessie Buckley gives a star-making performance in ‘Wild Rose,’ and this is one of those moments when you say to yourself, ‘Wow, this is a star.’ She is funny and vulnerable and heartbreaking, and she can sing. And Director Tom Harper showcases her vividly: she light up the screen whenever she is on, and frames her with a classic underdog story of a woman from Glasgow who wants to be a country singer, and dreams of going to Nashville. But even though the story is familiar, the screenplay isn’t, as it takes you to some unexpected twists and turns. I wish I could say that I was mesmerized by the film – it has all the elements of what would make me happy – but I am not really a big fan of country music so I can just only like this. I like it enough but I have already forgotten about it.