A deeply emphatic tale strikes one note and never budges in Limbo, a cinematic representation of the refugee experience.
A young Syrian refugee seeks asylum, along with many others, on a remote Scottish island. Written and directed by Ben Sharrock, this poignant drama is an important watch for the perspective it presents on the asylum process, including our views on those seeking refuge. Amir El-Masry delivers a warmly endearing performance, even as his character remains a man of few words. Most impressive is Sharrock’s approach to the story, told through slow developments and intentional camera pans that represent the experience of those we are following as they wait. Where Limbo falters, however, is that there is not much meat behind the characters and cinematography (which itself is bleak), nor does the empathy exhumed from viewers every develop into intrigue. Put simply, not much happens.
The liveliest moments of Limbo occur during cultural integration courses that see an eccentric teacher and her partner roleplaying in the kookiest ways (the opening scene is one of the funniest in recent memories). In terms of message or meaning, the film never quite zeroes in, instead languishing in the attention paid to El-Masry’s character, albeit shallowly, and little more. While charming at times and ultimately an important representation of an often forgotten population, Limbo remains stuck.
Limbo hits theaters Friday, April 30th, 2021.