Movie Review: “London River”

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Courtesy 3B Productions)

Summary: Two parents from different worlds are drawn together after the July 2005 terrorist bombings in London. Their children are missing, which creates an unlikely bond that crosses cultures and religions.

Review: London River has made the rounds all over the world except in the United States. But on Wednesday the film, which is written and produced by Franco-Algerian film director Rachid Bouchareb, debuts in select cities. Starring Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyaté (Kouyaté unfortunately passed away April 17, 2010 at the age of 74), London River 100% rides on the backs of these veteran actors.

Brenda Blethyn as Elisabeth Sommers, a sensitive and wildly naive mother, delivers a nuanced and memorable performance. Her character could’ve easily been one, long note but Blethyn stretched out her soul with acting chops that are Oscar-worthy. However, Academy Award accolades are far-fetched for an indie Brit film that has no big marketing budget.

Kouyaté, as a kind, humble father, haunts the screen. His character choices gave him a subtle strength, helping to enhance Blethyn.  Kouyaté’s performance earned him the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival.

London River is no groundbreaking piece of work. Much of the story you can predict in the first thirty minutes and the pace is unnecessarily sluggish. Yes, the script is typical, but there are several one-liners that shine, illuminating the horror of grief. Moreover, there is a constant presence of heart in London River. Bouchareb’s greatest accomplishment is successfully tackling class, grief and Islamophobia — as we all know, anything with the words “terrorist” and “Islam” unfortunately sparks unnecessary stereotypes. By the last frame, the ride of the characters is well-worth the journey.

London River opens in select cities on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

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