Rent Limbo (2020)

3.4 of 5 from 293 ratings
1h 40min
Rent Limbo Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
  • General info
  • Available formats
Synopsis:
Ben Sharrock's critically adored 'Limbo' is a wry, funny and poignant cross-cultural satire that subtly sews together the hardship and hope of the refugee experience. Set on a fictional remote Scottish island, it follows a group of new arrivals as they await the results of their asylum claims. Among them is Omar (Amir El-Masry), a young Syrian musician struggling with the guilt, regret and grief that comes with leaving his former life behind. This deadpan comedy-drama from a bold new voice in British cinema shines a light on the hearts and lives of those at the centre of a crisis that is mostly only experienced through the headlines.
Actors:
, , , , , , Sodienye Ojewuyi, Adam Abdalrhman, , , , , , Iona Elizabeth Thomson, , , Shereen Sadiq, Hayan Rich, Rob Keltie, Raadi Madhi
Directors:
Producers:
Angus Lamont, Irune Gurtubai
Voiced By:
Bobby Paton
Writers:
Ben Sharrock
Others:
Ben Sharrock (Writer/Director), Irune Gurtubai (Producer)
Studio:
Mubi
Genres:
Comedy, Drama
BBFC:
Release Date:
25/10/2021
Run Time:
100 minutes
Languages:
Arabic Dolby Digital 2.0, Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1, English Audio Description Dolby Digital 2.0, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles:
English, English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Q&A with Writer/Director Ben Sharrock and Cast
BBFC:
Release Date:
25/10/2021
Run Time:
104 minutes
Languages:
Arabic DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Arabic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Audio Description Dolby Digital 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles:
English, English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Q&A with Writer/Director Ben Sharrock and Cast

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Reviews (6) of Limbo

Humane, bittersweet portrayal of asylum-seekers in exile - Limbo review by PD

Spoiler Alert
13/12/2021

This one's a bleakly comic drama (definitely more drama than comedy, although the humour is never far away) about a group of misfit asylum-seekers stranded in surreal exile in a remote Scottish backwater town. Writer-director Ben Sharrock displays a winning flair for small observational detail and is generally successful at casting a refreshingly humane eye on a politically contentious topic that is often sensationalised by the media. A visually stunning landscape of treeless hills, deserted roads, wide-open sky and rocky coastline, the unnamed island location of Limbo is a key character in the story, serving both a dramatic and psychological function.

The episodic plot of Limbo centres on Omar (Amir El-Masry), a refugee from war-torn Syria, as he and the other migrants wait to hear whether the British government will grant them asylum. Omar shares a dingy cottage with the eccentric Afghani Farhad and two bickering brothers from West Africa. A skilled oud player in his past life, Omar now seems too depressed for music, haunted by guilt over the family he abandoned, especially older brother Nabil (Kais Nashif), who stayed behind to fight in Syria’s civil war - the scenes depicting the brief communication with his parents from a callbox are very powerful indeed.

Drawing on his personal experiences of living in the Middle East, including working in refugee camps, Sharrock depicts the migrant experience with a refreshingly light touch, although some of the more surreal elements, notably the absurd “cultural awareness” lessons hosted by their well-meaning hosts, don't really come off, and it strains credulity to believe that the casual racist abuse directed at these outsiders by the island’s young white natives quickly dissolves into mutual respect, as does a running joke in which Sharrock paints his refugee protagonists as obsessive fans of kitsch American and European pop culture.

Limbo takes a more serious turn in its latter stages, when painful secrets and unexpected tragedies darken the otherwise largely playful mood, as does a climatic surreal scene reconnecting Omar with his brother. This tonal shift is a brave one, but still jars a little, with Sharrock grasping at a profundity that is a little beyond his reach here, and in doing so also risks giving in to a sentimentalised melodrama that he has skilfully avoided up to this point. A pity also that a decision to just let the music speak for itself until the very end is denied us as Omar's playing gets absorbed into the vacuous drone soundtrack. Nevertheless, all in all a very watchable, thought-provoking piece.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Seeking asylum can be bleak, so let's put them on a bleak island.... - Limbo review by DS

Spoiler Alert
19/01/2022

Limbo is a tragicomedy specifically addressing the hot topic in the good old angry UK, asylum seekers, refugees. Seen from the point of view of the four young men who are awaiting the results of their applications we are thrown into the quirky and dull life on the remote Scottish Island. The director and writer Sharrock cleverly paces the story along these lines. For extended periods of time nothing happens, standing around, walking from point to point, meeting the strange locals, both racist and yet also friendly. The pace is gentle to say the least.

Sharrock brilliantly blindsides the angry racists out there by not showing the four principal characters in a heavenly, can-do-no-wrong, light. Without spoiling the plot, they, like all of us at times, are not entirely honest but the brilliant part is they are not demonised. They are human beings and if you were in the same situation would you do the same – truthfully, most of us would.

There are no cheap flashbacks here to flesh out our protagonists but once again Sharrock shows budget-friendly skills but using Omar’s partially amusing and always heart-breaking once-a-week calls back to his parents, refugees themselves in Turkey, as exposition.

Amir El-Masry is pitch-perfect as the stone-faced Omar who leads us through the story. Just from his skilful performance you can tell his heart and soul are broken from the decision his family has made and the trip he has undertaken. He observes but never fully engages, taking taunts from the equally as bored and oddly friendly and racist island youth as stoically as he takes his friend Farhad’s ideas of managing him and putting him forward to a local talent show.

Farhad is the Ying to Omar’s Yang, fully rounded as a character but more upbeat and the viewers comic-foil he is equally as skilfully played by Vikash Bhai, chain-smoking, with a stolen chicken as his pet (played out very movingly at the story's end believe it or not) he, along with Helga and Boris’ "Cultural Awareness 101", stop the film from wallowing in sadness and presiding in the dark. Again, some skillful storytelling by Sharrock, the absurdity of life sitting alongside the sorry and loss. Another shout out to Sidse Babett Knudsen and Kenneth Collard [Cuckoo] as the well-meaning but comic foils, Collard in particular makes me laugh by just standing there.

The final two characters, in essentially this four-hander, are Wasef and Abedi two ‘brothers’ coming from Africa played by Ola Orebiyi and Kwabena Ansah which basically gives Sharrock a four from four with his casting skills. The two seeming brothers have varied reasons for seeking asylum and their stories conclude very differently to Omar and Farhad’s but they all share the house together and discuss/argue about mundane things such as Friends and playing for Chelsea Football Club.

The cinematography by Nick Cooke highlights the sparse lonely wilderness of the barren island making it almost a fifth character, solemn, unforgiving and beautiful. Shots of isolated bus stops and buildings against the vast skylines further underline the isolation in a stark and uncomplicated way.

Despite the comedic moments of visits to the island supermarket, [the spices rack and rules against urinating] and the integration lessons, we never lose sight of the fact that the four men are truly lost in Limbo, with no idea which is the worst thing, the guilt, the waiting or the bleak life of basically ‘nothing’.

Limbo is a beautifully directed, written and acted film and all involved should be proud of their involvement. A story as old as the human race, moving across the world to find a better place is told with humour, empathy but above all truth. It is a story about a sort of forced camaraderie, where comfort must be taken by shared circumstances and is liberally peppered with absurd set pieces and dramatic tragedy - highly recommended.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Wonderful, moving and thoughtful - Limbo review by AK

Spoiler Alert
24/03/2022

A remarkable film about a painful subject, handled with tenderness and honesty. It brings home the awfulness for those waiting to hear whether they have gained asylum or not but is not didactic; it is movingly human. We engage with each person and gain an insight into their loneliness and isolation, while they establish a camaraderie with those around them. It should be compulsive viewing to horrors like Priti Patel. Refugees should be welcome here. 

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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