Separated from his Syrian parents and brother on a remote Scottish island while he waits for his claim for asylum to be assessed, Omar (Amir El-Masry) contends with harsh elements, wary locals and unreliable mobile phone reception while trying to stay connected and optimistic about his prospects. A gifted young musician, Omar has lost the will to play the oud that has travelled with him from his war-torn home but his new flatmates – the Freddie Mercury-obsessed Farhad (Vikash Bhai) most insistent among them – help provide distraction from the bureaucratic limbo they all find themselves in.
Ben Sharrock’s ultimately uplifting existential comedy drama deftly balances a wry, deadpan quality reminiscent of Roy Andersson’s films (About Endlessness; You, the Living) – an opening scene in which the men attend a Cultural Awareness 101 class neatly sets the tone – with moments of poignant reflection in which the complicated histories the men carry with them threaten to defeat them.
Sidse Babett Knudsen (from Danish TV drama, Borgen) appears in a supporting role that makes the most of a well-honed talent for physical comedy and timing.
Roberta Ciabarra – Curator, Film
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