In This World

Afghans' odyssey puts the asylum-seeker problem into human context

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DIRECTED BY Michael Winterbottom

STARRING Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah

Opens March 28, Cert tbc, 88 mins

After his exuberant?if self-indulgent?24-hour trip to Madchester, Winterbottom follows his postmodern story of Factory Records with an altogether more ‘ worthy’ effort. But don’t let that put you off; if you ever saw his 1997 examination of the Bosnian conflict Welcome To Sarajevo, you will know that Winterbottom is not one for moralising, sentimentality or political protests. Moving further east than Europe, In This World is the unsparing story of two Afghan refugees who set out on an astounding odyssey to London from their adopted country of Pakistan. Like 24 Hour Party People, it’ s shot on DV and highly improvised?but here such freedoms don’t lead to the sprawling scenes that blighted the second half of its Manc predecessor. Winterbottom remains focused throughout?the result replicating to an even more acute degree the documentary feel he gave to his London-based drama, Wonderland (1999).

Jamal is an orphan born into a refugee camp, earning a dollar a day working at a brick factory. His cousin Enayatullah is to be sent to England to give him the chance of a better life?and, as he speaks no English, Jamal offers to act as his guide. Their transport is a chain of trucks, lorries and container ships, and they take a route not recommended in Lonely Planet guides. Arduous isn’t the word for this trek as they battle with boredom and bullets in equal measure. Eliciting two fine naturalistic performances from his two non-actors, Winterbottom recreates guerrilla-style the cross-continental journey refugees face as they move from Pakistan to Iran, Turkey and western Europe. Moving but not mawkish.


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