The Flood Review

Sometimes a film comes along which focuses on such an obvious issue, and in such a relatively straightforward way, that the lasting impact doesn’t come from any particular aspect of the film itself, but rather the reality that it highlights.

Scheduled to be released during World Refugee Week, Anthony Woodley’s The Flood looks at the plight of refugees in the current political climate.

Wendy (Lena Headey) is a UK immigration officer with a less-than-rosy personal life, but none of this dents the poker face she flashes when assessing applicants on a daily basis.

Her boss, Philip (Iain Glen) is a bit more flustered, overseeing matters from a higher level and occasionally battling with the Home Office.

Yes, there is a Game of Thrones connection with the main actors, but is forgotten after a few moments.

Through strong performances, Woodley’s direction and Helen Kingston’s well-researched script, you get the feeling that Wendy and Philip are well-rounded human beings, albeit drowning in the bureaucracy and political undercurrents of their jobs. Which sets the scene for what comes next.

Philip assigns a high-profile asylum case to Wendy, based on her strong track record. The case involves Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah, who funnily enough is attached to a certain Westeros-based prequel show).

Haile was discovered in the back of a truck on its way up from Dover, where he seemingly attacked two policemen with a knife.

Sat before the stony-faced Wendy, Haile is polite, courteous and attempts to break the ice on several occasions.

Gradually Haile manages to overcome the rigid interview format to tell his remarkable story, a story which involved fleeing Eritrea, traversing Europe and forging alliances in the Calais Jungle to earn a passage through the Channel Tunnel.

Haile’s story, we are informed by an early title card, is derived from interviews with many real-life immigrants and asylum seekers.

The film mainly focuses on his journey, told through flashbacks, but some of the weightiest moments occur in the interview room as Wendy’s steely resolve is slowly broken down.

Jeremiah gives much needed warmth and integrity to Haile, as well as an underlying air of weary sadness, and Glen provides a counterbalance to the emotional side of the story, but it is Headey who arguably has the toughest job.

Wendy is essentially both a potential antagonist and a vessel for an audience which may have varying degrees of understanding about situations such as Haile’s. Headey avoids depicting Wendy as either a blank canvass or as a villain; merely a human being, same as Haile, with a tough job and all the baggage that brings.

The credibility of Wendy’s reaction to Haile’s story, and its application to a wider message around kindness between two people, plays out over the course of the film and is what really makes it all work and avoid it slipping into sentimentality.

Yes, there is a weird Game of Thrones connection here, but if the actors’ wider fame attracts more viewers to this film and raises more awareness, then that can’t be a bad thing.

Conor Brennan

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June 2019
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