Home' LOTL : April 2010 Contents 23
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A er three months traversing Europe from
Iraq, Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) has reached Calais in
northern France, from where he can see Eng-
land, his girlfriend's new homeland. Frantic to
reach her, he attempts to cross the Channel and
when all other means fail, he decides to swim
the distance. e only problem is that he doesn't
know how to swim! He seeks assistance from a
swimming coach, Simon (Vincent Lindon) who is
initially reluctant to get involved. Full of self-pity
a er his wife's (Audrey Dana) recent demands for
a divorce, Simon isn't overly sympathetic to Bilal's
predicament. However, sensing an opportunity
to impress his wife with some newly-discovered
compassion, Simon agrees to help, but before long
he develops a genuine empathy for Bilal, and their
lives become indelibly intertwined.
While this beautiful, moving film tells an
ugly story about the ill-treatment of refugees,
it also reveals much about the power of love.
Writer/director Lioret was inspired by the
plight of the many young refugees he saw on
a visit to Calais, and was determined to bring
their story to a wider audience. His heartfelt
film is both tender and confronting, and has
been widely praised wherever it has screened.
Along with Firat Ayverdi who plays Bilal,
many of the secondary roles in the film are
also played by non-actors. Combined with the
scenes shot on location in Calais, these raw
performances have helped give the film a very
genuine feel. One can't help but care about
these desperate young boys and what becomes
Director: Phillipe Lioret
Staring: Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana
In 1910, Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) is ill and
facing death. As he confronts the end of his life, he is
torn between leaving the rights and the earnings from
his work to the Russian people or to his family. He
is caught in a bitter power struggle between his wife,
Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren) and the leader of the
utopian movement he founded, Chertkov (Paul Gia-
matti). e ensuing battles are witnessed by Tolstoy's
new secretary, Valentin ( James McAvoy), himself
a Tolstoyian who quickly relinquishes his vows of
chastity when he meets another young devotee on
Tolstoy's estate. To nd some peace, Tolstoy leaves the
estate, travelling to southern Russia by train, but he is
soon too sick to travel any further.
Although this lm is uneven, with a levity in the
rst half that is not matched in the second, it is worth
seeing for its acting and visual appeal if nothing else.
It is sheer pleasure to watch Mirren and Plummer to-
gether as the passionate but troubled couple, who still
adore each other a er a 48 year marriage. Whilst their
fer vour remains evident, alongside it is considerable
con ict and an inability to compromise.
is intense relationship gives the actors great
scope to showcase their abilities.
The Last Station
Becker Film Group
Director: Michael Hoffman
Staring: Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer,
James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti
SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL
The 13th Spanish Film Festival will be screening
throughout Australian capital cities in May, with
tickets available in early April. This year it will
feature a special "All About Women" programme.
A first for any Spanish Film Festival, the section
will include a range of films directed by Spanish
and Latin American women who have had a
significant impact on Spanish cinema. It will
consider the various and diverse portrayals of
women in Spanish cinema from the 1950s to the
present, expanding upon the iconic image of the
strong, determined and sexy Spanish woman.
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