In This World

"Excellent"

In This World Review


From the bombed out ruins of Afghanistan to the Red Cross outlets of London, Michael Winterbottom moves from A to B to C to D (with stops along the way in Iran, Turkey, and France) in his new digital feature In This World as Pashtun refugees flee their decimated homeland. Though he beats a fierce political drum in the name of universal humanity, Winterbottom's movie is a visceral experience more than a liberal sermon. It's as exhausting as it is stunning to behold.

Told in his usual you-are-there style, with aggressive handheld cameras pursuing his subjects, Winterbottom keeps his story on the ground level, which is to say the human level. He hit his stride with his own brand of expressive naturalism with his Thomas Hardy adaptation, The Claim. One of the most prolific of modern filmmakers, Winterbottom brought joy to the world with his Manchester-based swirl of post-punk music in 24 Hour Party People.

Now Winterbottom's back to reactionary observation, only he does it with less polish and more tarnish than his previous, the flawed but bracing Welcome to Sarajevo. Now he's embraced digital technology, and even though his video images look like gritty filth most of the time, that's appropriate for a story set mostly in bombed out villages, the backs of pick-up trucks, desert wastelands, buses, and abusive border check-in stations.

Animated maps and large-lettered subtitles of each new country punctuate the movement of the two Pashtuns (16-year-old, English-speaking wiseguy Jamal, and soulful, distrustful grown-up Enayat), which places this movie in a global context (In This World, after all). Jamal and Enayat come from different customs, and skeptical viewers may groan at having to acclimate themselves to a National Geographic special about a third world country, but Winterbottom never treats it as "serious" (all the while treating their situation seriously). Jamal and Enayat listen to rock and roll, tell wildly imaginative jokes, and stand by each other from one grim (illegal) situation to the next.

In This World crosses cultural boundaries -- a tale of survival that is accessible because Winterbottom so protectively keeps his camera with Jamal and Enayat throughout every step of the way. Even the casual viewer will grow accustomed to them -- and identify with them out of necessity. Virtually every other character is unnamed, and as potentially distrustful as the rogues Pinocchio met along the way. And each new country seems to have its own disorienting rules. At one checkpoint, Winterbottom shoots in "night vision" photography, while a deadly snowstorm and an armed guard are lost in an electronic haze as Jamal and Enayat flee across dangerous mountain ground.

Running at a taut 88 minutes, In This World races the characters along their long and arduous road. At times, this brutal non-narrative travelogue seems to wander from its destination -- though it clearly builds to a harsh emotional peak at the climax. A pitch-black 40-hour freighter journey to France, lit only by flashlight, plays like one of Edgar Allan Poe's descents into madness. And a climactic, fleeting return to Afghanistan plays as a montage of children's faces looking into the camera, mostly smiling and mostly curious. This purely emotive moment of beauty, operatic in its glory, plays out against the harsh and uncompromising plight that has been the rest of In This World. Winterbottom serves up his angry message through clenched teeth, and then in a series of close-ups he manages to touch our hearts and souls. It defies you to remain unmoved.



In This World

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th March 2003

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Jamal, as Enayat, Imran Paracha as Travel Agent (Pakistan)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.