Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(French, 2009)

If we can believe this movie—and I think we can—France is very harsh with illegal aliens. You can go to jail just for feeding or housing them. This is the story of Bilal, a 17-year-old Kurdish boy from Iraq. He has walked 4000 kilometers to get to Calais, in the hope getting to England to be with his girlfriend in London, who is about to be married off to someone she doesn’t love. When all else fails (and we see some very high-tech measures used to prevent human smuggling), he decides to swim the channel. Now, a lot of people have done that since the first one in 1875, including a quadruple amputee (!) in 2010. But this kid can barely dog paddle. He signs up for two swim lessons (all he can afford), and the swim teacher (Vincent Lindon), takes an interest in him. It’s quite a good story, well-written, and it did not go at all where I expected it to. I thought we’d be seeing one of those “you can do anything if you only try hard enough” stories, but instead we got … well, I shouldn’t tell. It will probably surprise you.