The 7/7 bombings serve as the backdrop to this clash of cultures tale. Guernsey-based Falklands War widow Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) is first seen listening to a church sermon about loving your neighbour. In Africa, Muslim Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyate) is seen praying at an olive grove. They are both impelled to come to London as their children have gone missing in the aftermath of the attack where they meet and converse in stifled French. Both parents realise how little they really know about their children (in Ousmane’s case it’s unsurprising as he is an absent father) and are surprised at the cosmopolitan nature of London.
The lack of discussion on terrorism here is a crucial and near-fatal omission, especially as writer/director Rachid Bouchareb showed his dab hand at treating contentious political issues with his 2006 debut Days of Glory (which brought into focus the sterling effort that Algerian troops made to liberate France during World War Two).
The kitchen sink aesthetic accentuates the fact that Bouchareb’s London is a series of clichés and stereotypes. Nonetheless, despite its flaws it does build to a dramatic conclusion filled with pathos that avoids the pitfalls usually associated with stories about two seemingly opposite people realising they have a lot in common.
GFT, Glasgow from Tue 27–Thu 29 Jul.