Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eden à l'ouest (Eden is West)

Costa-Gavras films are always must-be-seen for me even when most are truly hard-to-watch. My surprise is to find that this movie -that has a very difficult theme: illegal immigration- is light and quite playful making it perhaps the easiest to watch Costa-Gavras film I have ever seen. But within all the lightness and playfulness we are exposed to a series of situations that immigrants have to suffer when illegally entering any European country.

Tells the story of Elias (Riccardo Scamarcio) that jumps a ship full of illegal immigrants because police is coming, evades police to wake up next morning at a nudist beach in a plush hotel that I assume is in France. In the hotel manages to continue evading police by passing as a hotel clerk, a customer, a magician aid, and the boyfriend of a German tourist played by Juliane Köhler that many blog readers will recognize from great Aimee and Jaguar. This part of the story includes sexual advances by the hotel director (Eric Caravaca) and watching how hotel guests willingly help to find other illegal immigrants that jumped the ship, plus tourist attitudes when bodies started to appear dead at the beach. As Elias is able to leave a hotel following an invitation from the magician to see him in Paris, he will find people that will help him and who will exploit him. The rest you have to see it as the end of the film is bittersweet for the character (and us viewers) but it’s done with a touch of magic that says much about the entire film.

The film has excellent tempo that makes it feel like a thriller and you really want to know what will happen to Elias next. Lightness, playfulness and thriller are words not often used to describe a good movie and obviously the Costa-Gavras skillful abilities are what make this movie great to watch, while “reviewing” and seeing scenes from a very difficult theme like immigration. This is amazing.

But more amazing is to find what Costa-Gavras says about the film:
"que le film soit un hommage à nos pères, nos grands-pères et à ceux de notre génération qui sont venus en France malgré les embûches et les tempêtes". Le cinéaste précise tout de même qu'il n'a pas réalisé une autobiographie même si "ce film est sans doute mon film le plus personnel."

By the way, do not try to understand the language that Elias and his fellow immigrants speak, it was invented by Costa-Gavras and Jean-Claude Grumberg who co wrote the script with him. The only reason: didn’t want viewers to identify a nationality to the lead character.

Excellent production values with special mention to the beautiful cinematography in many scenes with dramatic nature takes and the great performance by Italian Riccardo Scamarcio that is truly believable as the good looking childish, naïve and very fast runner always flying away from police.

The film was screened out of competition at the 2009 Berlinale where was the closing film. I never thought that I will recommend a Costa-Gavras film for being entertaining! Yes, the film is very entertaining and I strongly recommend it to those that can’t miss a Costa-Gavras film and to those that have never seen any of his movies, this is the one to watch; but be aware that his other films are not like this one.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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