Pentlow Film Club

Film ReelFor our November evening we showed the 2009 film London River by the Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb, set in the aftermath of the July bombings. It is the poignant story of the search by two very different parents for their missing children after the event: Brenda Blethyn playing a farmer from Guernsey, and Sotigui Kouyate an African Muslim working in France who has not seen his son since the boy was 6 and living in North Africa with his mother. What they find in London is that the two young people knew each other, were living together and both involved in the Muslim community.

As they find out more about the children, we find out more about the parents; the mother feeling the shock of finding that her daughter had become involved with Muslims and was learning Arabic, and resisting, even resenting, the fact and the people involved, while the father, Ousmane, has a stillness and quiet acceptence of the events which covers his fear that his son, Ali, might have been involved in the bombing. They slowly come together in their tragic search, from her first horror on meeting so strange and alien a person as Ousmane, to a coming to terms in a mutual cause.

The contrast between them is really the point of the film. Blethyn is all restless anxiety, resisting the differences between her daughter’s life and her own conventional thinking, and Kouyate’s acceptance, stillness and measured attitude to the quest. For me he is beyond question the star of the film, a charismatic actor and, in real life, a court musician from Mali. In the film he is physically fragile, but with the African walk which eats up miles without noticing. In real life he died soon after the film was made.

The end was real, but done in a way more artistic than realistic, and it took a little from the film as a whole. But it was well worth seeing, and a good audience came to see it.

The next is on 13 December: NB Saturday, not Friday, so we hope to see you there.

Isobel Clark

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