Welcome Philippe Lioret

Welcome Philippe Lioret
Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) is a Kurdish 17-year-old from Iraq stranded illegally in France, wanting desperately to get to England, where his girlfriend Mina (Derya Ayverdi) has an unwanted arranged marriage to her cousin impending. Unable to cross the border by land, Bilal decides that swimming across the English Channel is the best course of action and heads off to a pool to take lessons. This is where he meets a swim-teacher-curmudgeon-with-a-heart-of-gold named Simon Calmat (Vincent Lindon). To contextualize the scope of contrivances in this setup, just replace Vincent Lindon with Charles Grodin and the Kurdish kid with a St. Bernard, and add a whole lot of liberal posturing and embarrassingly myopic preaching. Bilal is depicted as some naïve, doe-eyed innocent, martyred and incapable of any chicanery or intended illegality, sort of like a Disney Princess, but without poisoned apples or communist dwarves. Similarly, his struggles on the streets of France with other illegal immigrants give off an Oliver Twist vibe, as though they were all well-intentioned victims of rich, white exploitation, represented here by a cackling, villainous police force and a racist neighbour with a (sigh) ironic "welcome" mat at his front door. Within the context of this film, the laws in place and figures of authority do so only to repress and discriminate against unfortunate pure souls, which, frankly, is horseshit. It sucks, but these things typically come about through recognized patterns of socialist exploitation and trends of organized crime — facts far too inconvenient for a narrative this twee and self-satisfied. Lioret's naturalistic aesthetic helps mask the familiarity of this uninspired setup, but no amount of colour-filtering and slow pan shots can cover up the enormous soapbox on which this film hoists itself. Fortunately, the DVD includes the short The Berlin Wall, wherein an older German man builds a wall in his backyard after the death of his wife, which is interpreted politically by his neighbours. This tale of perspective and loss makes checking out this DVD worthwhile. (Film Movement)