Monday, February 09, 2009

Last Resort: The Film They Couldn't Guess

Nineteen of the 20 of the lines in The Great Liberal England Movie Dialogue Quiz have now been correctly identified (there is some discussion on the comments to a later post too). But one defeated everybody:
Film 7
Vindaloo. Evil. It's a beast of a curry, yea, it's a real wicked bitch. Pilau rice, sweet rice, yellow rice. Rice is rice, and forever more shall be so. Potatoes with cabbage. Bombay sag potatoes. Have you ever had 'em? Beautiful. I promise you.
These lines come from Last Resort. Made in 2000, it is simply the best British film I have seen in years. Which makes me rather sad that no one else seems to have seen it.

Shadows on the Wall gives a good brief review:
This remarkable little film takes a startlingly honest look at foreigners who get caught up in bureaucracy and inflexibility in a strange country. Clever and very funny, yet also deadly serious, the film feels almost like a documentary as it follows single mother Tanya (Korzun) and her early-teen son (Strelnikov) on their odyssey. 
Arriving from Moscow at London's Stansted Airport, they don't understand why Tanya's English fiance isn't there to meet them. In a panic, Tanya claims political asylum, thinking she can sort things out as long as they can stay in Britain. But they're sent to a holding area on the seaside--a bleak and long-abandoned resort town where they must stay while their application is processed. Basically, it's like being sentenced to 18 months on Alcatraz! 
Two men offer to help in very different ways: a friendly shop owner (Considine) and a sleazy internet pornographer (Honey). But can Tanya ever trust a man again? 
Director-cowriter Pawlikowski obviously knows what he's talking about: Everything here has the ring of authenticity, from the way the film looks to the actions and reactions of the various characters. Korzun and Strelnikov are so bracingly natural that it's disarming--we instantly take an interest in them, feeling both their frustration and desperate hope. Considine (A Room for Romeo Brass) delivers another fascinating performance that wins us over completely, even though we don't quite trust him either. 
And the film looks fantastic ... in a very unusual way. Pawlikowski has a gifted eye for capturing a sense of place; the film's setting is relentlessly drab and grim--sprawling yet claustrophobic, modern yet falling down. What should be a quaint, lively English seaside is far more desolate than anything Tanya and her son might have left behind in Russia.
And here is the trailer...

1 comment:

Chris Black said...

I've not seen the film , but the trailer sets such an authentic scene that it sends a shiver down my spine (as 2/3 of my family came from Russia to join me here in the 1990s).