Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's a Free World...

Boy, do I hate it when I go to the cinema and see a movie that really disappoints me…

I went to see It’s a Free World… and I can’t for the love of God understand why that film has an IMDB rating of 7.1. At best I would give it 5-something. I’ve seen a bunch of not-so-great movies over the past 12 months or so but I’ve hardly ever been as disappointed as when I walked out of the cinema tonight.

Seriously, on how many levels can you mess up a movie? The main character was simply appalling and superficial, the acting was less than impressive and even if those two things had worked the core of the story remains utterly questionable.

The basic story is quite simple and does have potential (IMHO): a young woman called Angie losses her job working for a British employment agency hiring Polish men and women to work in the U.K. Then she decides to start a similar business together with a flat mate, subsequently turning into a real a**hole on oh-so-many levels. She neglects her son, doesn’t take meaningful advice from her parents and, worst of all, treats the workers she hooks up to job like s***. The consequence of her actions is a serious mess of a life to say the least.

Oddly enough the movie is somehow based on the premise of the viewer connecting with the young women, yet I can’t remember ever seeing a character in a movie that was so unsympathetic. As one of my friends with who I watched the movie put it: Vito Corleone from The Godfather was a nice fellow compared to her. I’d go as far as saying that Nicky Santoro from Casino was portrayed  as a more likable character.

The thing is that even if “Angie” had been a character to connect with  the focus of the movie would have been questionable to say the least. Foreign workers (both legal and illegal) being abused by European individuals, companies and the (often informal) structure set up to support said abuse in itself is a very interesting and important topic. But why-oh-why focus on a small fish in the sea and her shallow excuses for profiting of other people’s misery? Should that be some sort of grand excuse or justification? Why not tell the story of one of these workers and their families instead? Or look at what the life of Karol, a Polish guy Angie grows quite fond of, is like instead of merely using him as a support-character of some sort.

At the end of the day I can’t help but feel that at least part of the description on the movie’s German Web site is accurate in that It’s a Free World demonstrates some of the worst kind of the Old Europe way of thinking that’s unfortunately still prevalent and therefore a “current yet timeless story.


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