London River (Rachid Bouchareb, 2009): UK/ France/ Algeria

Reviewed by Zi Huang. Viewed at Mann Chinese theater during the AFI film festival 2009.

London River, directed by Rachid Bouchared was the first movie I watched in the AFI Film Festival 2009. It didn’t disappoint me, and I can say it’s very worthy to spend two hours to enjoy the film. There is nothing too special in the film to surprise me, but it makes the film simple that a good story presented well with the efforts of two good actors and the crew who participate in making the film.

       The film is about a terrorism attack in London which causes a tragedy of many people’s death. I found the director created an obviously sad tone in the film which does not entertain the audiences at all. As the mother of the girl missing was aware of something wrong, I felt stressed and anxious like her because the depressive background music and the close-ups for the mother’s worried facial expression are very effective. There are too many close-ups for characters’ faces that made me feel uncomfortable. I thought that was what the director wanted the audiences to feel while watching the film. The sad tone is also presented by many other details. For example, the words like “boom” “died” “dead” are on the news showing on TV. Similarly, the sensitive words and bloody images are also showed in newspapers. The chaos situation in hospital and the sad and worried faces of the people who are the families of the dead people or the missing people work well to create a depressive mood. Combining all of those with the uncomfortable music, they make me worried and wonder whether the mother’s girl has died or not, the same feeling and question of the mother. The sound of ambulance which sometimes comes up reveals the truth that London is messed up and many people died and injured from the explosion of the booms. It is the reason that gives rise to panic.

       On the other hand, a father comes from Paris also comes to London to find his missing son. The two storylines go together due to the boy lives with the girl and they are classmates in an Arabian class. So the two strangers run into each other even though the mother wearies of the father. Actually, they are very alike. They both lost the contact with their kids, and unsure if they died in the explosion, so they come to London and tries to find the kids out. They are the strangers in the city, and seem to be lost in the city because they try hard to look for their kids but still can’t find out.

       It is a good film emphasizes on the features and personalities of the characters, and the slow movement of the plots helps to portray the characters. Therefore, the audiences can feel the deep emotion that the parents care of the kids.

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