A plunge into the world of asylum-seekers driven from their homes by Middle East instability, In This World takes a documentary-like (and, when the guerrilla filmmaking runs into real bullets, just plain documentary) approach to the story of two cousins’ attempt to make their way from the crowded camps of Peshawar, Pakistan to London. Directed by the versatile Michael Winterbottom (The Claim, 24 Hour Party People), it opens with footage of the overwhelming confusion of Peshawar life, accompanied by alarming statistics about the millions of refugees in the world, as well as the way each war only compounds the problem. But statistics tend to drift into the ether when not tied to illustrations, and because In This World was completed before Gulf War II, the statistics are out of date.So for the rest of the film, Winterbottom lets his story make his points for him. Non-professional actors Enayatullah and Jamal Udin Torabi play the cousins; their real-life stories dovetail with their characters’ stories, but they look like they’re taking the journey for the first time, as Winterbottom follows them through back roads and secret compartments from Pakistan to Iran to Turkey and beyond. Dodging border patrols and hiding behind orange crates—and worse—they bring to the task a stoic resolve well beyond their years. (Torabi claims to be 16, while Enayatullah looks close to 30.) For Winterbottom, the journey itself is the story. Along the way, his protagonists encounter a little kindness, a lot of indifference, and ultimately, carelessness with potentially tragic consequences. That mirrors a more general attitude toward refugees’ plight, which is no doubt part of the point. In This World has a message, which it effectively conveys by succeeding first as an affecting film. Winterbottom’s actors give a human face to current events as they proceed along their grim road-movie toward a destination that may not even want them. They may be statistics, too, but their stories stick in the mind.
Onion AV Club
Language:Pashtu / Persian / English