I’ve worked with refugees. Nothing in your life prepares you for the experience. Einstein helped to set up the original Refugee organization, the IRC, to help people fleeing the Nazis, in World War II. To help them escape, whatever it takes, that is what the United States did, and still does, by giving refugees shelter.
To meet a person fleeing religious or political persecution, is not at all the same as immigration. Many people in the US get this mixed up. Most of the people I met who were refugees, had seen their spouses, families, communities, decimated. Sometimes their loved ones murdered before their eyes.
Only a few people each year are given permission to escape to the US. They are provided temporary shelter and about $900. American dollars (yes, count it, $900), to start a whole new life. Many are completely alone. Now imagine that’s the highest, best, but most desperate thing you can do, to save your life, and the lives of anyone you love who is still breathing.
Now lets look at this film.
A powerful, lonely man is living a strange life on a farm in the outback. We see everything through his eyes. His wakes up weary, surprised, then makes breakfast in a big ramshackle farm house. He’s always alone. He feeds his dog, does his chores. He is silent, internal, heavy with repetition. It’s as though his boredom is protecting him, saving him, jailing him, but from what? We don’t know until…
He wakes the next day, but this time his repetition is broken, by a woman running toward him on his land. She is stumbling, beaten, insane with fear, a refugee from a war torn area of the world. She runs to him, then away, then tries to escape. He finally is able to subdue her enough to put her in a shower. She is bloody, filthy, animal like. He then puts her to bed in his enormous pajamas.
When she wakes, she has no idea where she is. She tries to kill him, and escape again. Slowly she comes to, realizing he is a safe harbor, even though she is still hiding from those who are trying to hunt her down. She hardly knows English, but knows enough to try to earn her keep. She begins to put the house in order, which causes the man to go mad with grief. It is her helping him, which reveals his story.
This is a good film to watch if you want to know what is happening right now in the world today. How the most venerable of all people are being treated, just because they tried to escape from worse. VULNERABILITY, at all levels is the issue for the refugee, always hyper alert to the dangers they have already escaped, always trapped, at best by misunderstandings, even by the people who have given them this wary shelter. They remain always open to being exploited through isolation, loneliness and displacement.
I give this film the highest rating not as film making, though there is beauty in it, but as humanity making. Though this is a story of so called “redemption” watch it and weep.