Welcome (Palace Films Collection) (2009)
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Director Philippe Lioret (5.35)
|Year Of Production||2009|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Philippe Lioret|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There couldn't be a more ironic title for the latest film from French director Philippe Lioret’s than Welcome. For this achingly sad film is about how unwelcome Mother France is towards the illegal immigrants and refugees crossing her borders and trying to start a new life. It is a neighbour’s welcome mat, the same neighbour who reports Simon (Vincent Lindon) to the police for harbouring immigrants, that brings home to Simon and us the inhumanity of the treatment of the immigrants and those who would try to help them.
Seventeen year old Kurd, Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), has crossed into France after a long journey from Iraq. He is stuck in Calais, tantalisingly close to England. He has two dreams, being a football star and crossing the channel to be re-united with his girlfriend Mina in London. That is no easy task. Bilal is stateless and unable to enter the UK legally. As his friend tells him, riding on the underside of trains can't be done with the high speed channel train. Bilal is captured after a disastrous attempt to sneak through on a truck.
Being sentenced by a magistrate who has clearly seen it all before, Bilal is presented with the unfortunate paradox. As a refugee from a war torn country he will not be incarcerated. However, he cannot get government assistance and, under harsh French laws, anyone who assists him is liable to be imprisoned for up to 5 years. The Magistrates suggestion; go home.
At a local swimming pool Bilal forms the idea to swim across the English Channel. He enlists the help of swimming teacher Simon, who is initially unsure as to why this boy, who swims like a beetle, wants to take lessons from him. Simon is going through a bad patch at the moment. His divorce from his wife Marion (Audrey Dana) is almost final and she is starting to remove all the things from his house, the books and furniture that speak of their past life. Marion is an activist who feeds the "clandestines" as they are called in soup kitchens down on the wharf. When Simon decides to help Bilal, including risking trouble by allowing him into his house, it is probably as a way of trying to get back together with Marion by showing her that he does have heart. But as he spends more time with the young man and fully understands his plight, Simon becomes a collaborator in the same way that Richard Jenkins became personally invested in his immigrant friends in The Visitor , another film that speaks of the terrible sadness at the core of the illegal immigrant experience.
Director and co-writer Philippe Lioret makes films that are touching and sad. I last saw his film The Light, which beautifully expressed the loneliness at the core of a heart without love, something that drives both Simon and Bilal in this film. It is also a devastating critique on the French law that deems it unlawful to assist refuges; a law against humanity. The performances are excellent from both the experienced French leads and the Kurdish newcomers. The film was a huge success in France and was even shown in Parliament as an invitation to repeal the law. Sadly, as at today’s date the welcome mat remains an ironic symbol rather than a reality and the law remains as it was.
Welcome the film is a sad and touching experience.
Welcome was shot on 35mm film and shown at the cinema in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This ratio has been preserved for this DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The film has a fairly austere aesthetic. The sun rarely if ever shines and the world of the clandestines is pretty dark without being heavy-handedly grim. That said, the colours are handled well by this transfer. The image quality was fairly sharp. The scenes at the swimming pool are suffused with light, either from outside or the neons, and these scenes look a little softer but this is no visual deterrent. The flesh tones are accurate.
The film has no artefacts or defects and compression presents no issue over the course of this dual layered DVD. I could not detect the layer change. There are yellow subtitles in English for the foreign language scenes but no optional subtitles for the English language scenes.
Welcome carries two audio tracks. One is a Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448Kb/s and the other a 2.0 running at 224Kb/s. Both are up to the task of portraying the sonic landscape of this film. Where the 5.1 adds to the film is in the ambience. There is not a lot of surround action in the film but the surround track adds the noise of the tankers, trucks and people in the bustling port of Calais. Language wise the film features a mixture of tongues. Bilal and his friend speak Kurdish. Simon, Marion and the police and officials speak French. Simon speaks to Bilal in English. Not surprisingly the only difficulty in comprehension is when the heavily accented Frenchman and the heavily accented Kurd talk quickly and quietly.
The music for the film includes works by Oscar winner Nicola Piavani, Polish giant Wojclech Kilar and Moroccan French composer Armand Amar. The pieces chosen are moving and subtle including a particularly memorable piano theme.
There are no technical problems with the sound although there are a few abrupt edits where the hubbub of the outside world suddenly stops dead.
|Surround Channel Use|
This DVD contains only two short extras. This is a pity as it would have been good to get a bit more background information about the whole situation in France.
This short interview at least gives the co-writer and director a chance to explain the background to the film and the situation in France. He talks about the deaths that occur each year as people hiding in trucks put bags over their heads to contain the CO2 level in the environment to fool the CO2 sensors employed by the border police.
A decent theatrical trailer for the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The film has been released in other Regions. My research does not suggest a better version in any Region.
Welcome highlights a problem that not only concerns France but the rest of the World. What do we do with refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. The film shows the basic inhumanity of a system that seeks to criminalize the giving of humanitarian assistance. That it offers no answers, only highlights a problem, is not surprising as this is a complex problem that has troubled governments since borders were invented. The film is a fine drama
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|