Entertainment

Thursday 27 April 2017

Movies: London River * * *

(Club, IFI)

Paul Whitington

The film world's response to 9/11 and Al-Qaeda has in the main been underwhelming, but in London River French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb attempts to redress the balance somewhat by tackling the terrorist bombings that rocked London on July 7, 2005.

He approaches them, however, from a fairly oblique angle. Brenda Blethyn is Elisabeth Sommers, a sturdy lady in late middle age who's tending her small farm on the Channel Island of Guernsey when she hears news of the tube and bus bombs in the capital.

Elisabeth's daughter lives in London and is not answering her mobile, so she travels to the capital to find the girl. And as she begins to investigate, she crosses the path of a tall and imposing African man called Monsieur Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyaté) who has come to London to look for his son. Though Elisabeth is initially resistant to the notion of a connection between Ousmane's child and her own, there turns out to be one, and they must join forces as they endeavour to find out what has happened to them.

Rachid Bouchareb's film flirts with the potentially fascinating theme of how people come to terms with the sudden and irrevocable disappearance of loved ones, but doesn't really develop it.

In fact, apart from competently evoking the uneasy mood in post-7/7 London, it doesn't really develop very much of anything. No context or detail is given on the attacks themselves, which are clumsily counterbalanced by a supporting cast of relentlessly kind Muslims, and Ms Blethyn's frantic performance seems shrill next to Kouyaté's impressive calm.

Irish Independent

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