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With: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah
Written by: Tony Grisoni
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
MPAA Rating: R for brief strong language
Language: 88 with English subtitles
Running Time: -99
Date: 11/17/2002

In This World (2003)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Cruel 'World'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Using a title, In This World, that could belong to any movie inhistory (except maybe certain sci-fi films), director MichaelWinterbottom tells the story of a 16 year-old Pakistani refugee Jamal(Jamal Udin Torabi) and his older cousin, Enayat (Enayatullah), makingthe long and perilous journey toward London and potential prosperity.

As with his previous films The Claim and 24 Hour Party People, Winterbottom takes a simple premise -- the road movie -- and drenches it in layers of self-importance intended draw us away from said simple premise. He wants to make sure we know the worldly significance of this material.

His camera constantly strays from the main action to capture moments of local scenery in an attempt to prove how "real" it all is. One needless shot of a slaughtered cow spewing blood through his severed windpipe will no doubt turn viewers' stomachs.

As a result, we barely get to know the characters and we rarely know what's going on. We only occasionally know where we are, simply because Winterbottom kindly prints the locations on the screen.

To get a better idea of this film's failure, one has only to imagine how that gentle poet Abbas Kiarostami or the painterly Mohsen Makhmalbaf would treat this same material.

Still, In This World has moments of purity; I would swap the whole rest of the film for the early shot in which Jamal's little brother toddles after him, probably unaware that he may never see him again. That's a great moment and the only one that feels honest.

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