The price of freedom
Classic Elsternwick - Sunday 04 October 2015, 10:00am
Running time: 111m
Release date: 01/10/15
Cost: $10 (Optus Rewards)
Rating: 6/10 (ME 2.5/5, DP 3.5/5)
Simshar is a Maltese production, inspired by true events. This is a movie written with a range of different and interesting characters that tells a poignant, yet sometimes rather confusing and unnecessarily drawn out story of how socio-political events contributed towards a series of intertwined and unfortunate events in the Mediterranean. Young Theo (Adrian Ferrugia) is sent on his first trip with his Maltese fisherman father Simon (Lotfi Abdelli), his grandfather Karmenu (Jimi Busuttil) and their African ship-hand Moussa (Sékouba Doucouré), before things go terribly wrong. Simultaneously, the initially unsympathetic Alex (Mark Mifsud) is a medic who is reluctantly dispatched to a Turkish vessel that rescued a group of African Refugees from the sea between Malta and Italy, before finding itself caught up in a diplomatic storm between the two countries, that then strands the ship and the vulnerable refugees needing medical care, food and shelter. A third arm of the story plays out in the fishing village that is the Simshar's home, as the local fishermen become ever more frustrated by the bureaucratic requirements of the local authorities, primarily represented by John (Chrysander Agius). The three stories slowly play out, independently and at first seemingly unrelated, until a tragic turn of events starts to mesh them together. The importance of family and community are also major themes that develop throughout Simshar.
John and Alex are both characters struggling between obeying orders and adhering to common sense and compassion. Alex's strong opinions slowly change as he is assisted by and comes to know more about Makeda (Laura Kpegli) who is one of the boat bound refugees and delivers a strong performance as she somewhat reluctantly becomes the translator for the group.
Simshar brings this fateful story to life, both vividly and sensitively with numerous heartfelt, yet restrained performances throughout. You get a sense of each character and somehow want to know more about them and their background or back-story, which unfortunately are then not delivered in this film. There are some stunning scenes and settings in this film and the overall look is quite beautiful. An interesting and at times harrowing story is told, yet ultimately Simshar fails to deliver a suitably satisfying experience for the viewer. (DP)