Welcome: Movie Review
Cast: Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi
Director: Philippe Loiret
Welcome is a film which will have you thinking long after the credits
It's the story of Kurdish refugee Bilal (underplayed with quiet resolve by
Firat Ayverdi) who is determined to make it to England to see his recently
emigrated girlfriend and to get a better life.
So, initially he tries to get through the French border in a lorry along with
a group of fellow refugees - and it's all going well until they hit Calais and
Bilal, wearing a plastic bag on his head, has a panic attack and they're all
Suddenly Bilal finds himself in France and one day upon seeing the white
cliffs of Dover decides that he can swim for freedom and for a new life.
And that's how he meets Simon (a gruff Vincent Lindon) as he seeks swimming
lessons from him.
Gradually a friendship is formed and Simon tries to do what he can to help
Bilal...but will it be enough?
Welcome is an at times gritty and desperate affair, accurately recording the
routine degradations and desperations of the refugee community. The sight of
them with bags on their heads in the lorry as they head to Calais is depressing
and claustrophobic; and as they converge on Bilal's swimming pool to shower and
get thrown out of supermarkets it's a sad indictment of what our world's coming
Lindon's Simon undergoes a subtle change of character - initially gruff and
with his head in the sand to the plight of the refugees, he gradually warms to
the very quiet and determined Bilal and risks everything to help - including the
wrath of the police who are hunting clandestines.
Welcome is a film about humanity and hope - and you may leave the cinema
feeling initially depressed and saddened, but ultimately it's a provocatively
underplayed affair which will haunt you.