In This World
On the surface, director Michael Winterbottom's ambitious, guerrilla vérité In This World chronicles a very simple story: the journey of Afghan refugees Jamal (Jamal Udin Torabi) and his older cousin Enayat (Enayatullah) from Pakistan to London. Yet this bracing saga--from their Shamshatoo refugee camp outside Peshawar through Quetta and into Iran, by night on foot over snow-capped mountains into Turkey, in a container truck over sea (for more than 40 harrowing hours) to Trieste, stowed underneath a truck from France to London--caustically comments upon the events, current or not-so-current, that create political/economic migrants and the local, frequently English-speaking handlers who traffic them. Without hectoring or melodrama--Winterbottom's crew shot on digital video with the two nonprofessional leads improvising most of their dialogue--This World moves at an amorphous, inevitable pace, cameras often merely lingering on Enayat and Jamal in the grim silence of transit. Winterbottom wisely avoids trying to answer questions his movie raises, allowing his leads to convey what scripts cannot--the wounded pride of forgoing their native Pashto for Farsi or English in Iran, the skepticism of entrusting strangers with what little money you have and your life. And with the teen Jamal, In This World has a face with eyes more than capable of that troubled, unforgettable task.