(Review originally written at 24 July 2008)

Quite surprised to see how much this movie is being appreciated. While it of course is not the worst movie I've ever seen it also just isn't the most exciting or engaging one. It's a very simplistic and superficial movie, that could and should had been worked out way better when considering its main subject.

The movie just doesn't ever really become tense or exciting, the storytelling doesn't ever allow it. It's the kind of more realistic and slow but distant way of storytelling, in which all of the characters are quite stereotypical. It's all way too simplistic, especially also the movie its main plot. It's as if the film-makers didn't had the guts to be edgy and simply picked the easy, simple, safe road for the movie. The movie paid more attention to its style than its actual substance. A shame, when considering the 'serious' subject of the movie.

Surely they could had come up with something better concerning the theme of organ theft. It's a waste of a potentially great and relevant subject. The movie is not really a thriller, it's not ever tense or engaging enough for that but it's also not really a drama, since the character remain too underdeveloped and are just mere flat stereotypes of the persons from the countries that character originate from.

Perhaps it's also due to the main character that the movie doesn't really work out. He's a quiet but obviously intelligent man, who also obviously carries a secret with him. It makes him a character that is not always easy to understand and you just never really connect to him. Also embarrassing to watch at times how incredibly moralistic they made him look, which gives the entire movie as a whole also a moralistic overtone, that is somewhat in contrast perhaps with the serious and realistic approach of the movie.

The movie is only still refreshing to watch because it tells the story from the point of view of (illegal) immigrant living in London. But like I said before, the characters are still sad stereotypes. Chiwetel Ejiofor the smart African immigrant who has to start at the bottom again in the western world, Audrey Tautou the naive innocent young Muslim girl (funny though that Turkish immigrants speak with a clear French accent), Zlatko Buric the always complaining and cold Russian, who is also always in for making some extra cash. Benedict Wong the smart educated Asian and Sergi López as the temperamental Spaniard. It's especially bad how villainous Sergi López plays his character in the movie. He's basically evil and bad in every way possible, which again seems in contrast again with the movie its more realistic and serious approach of things.

I don't really think it's the actor's fault though. The international cast have proofed in movies before that they are some real capable actors, also in English speaking roles. Still it seems odd to me that they ever agreed to participate in this movie, considering the extreme stereotypical and also superficial roles they had to play.

But I more blame Stephen Frears for picking this approach. He's a well known and appreciated director, who has made some real hits but also misses in his career. This movie is somewhere in the middle of it. It's not good or effective enough to consider this a success movie but it's also not bad enough to label this movie as something horrible and unwatchable. It's a good looking movie that unfortunately doesn't pick the most effective approach thinkable for its subject.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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