And Breathe Normally (2018)—Iceland
This gritty drama debuted at the 2018 Sundance festival, where it received rave reviews and won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award. The melancholic tone of the movie is defined by the Icelandic geography — the wind howls across the bleak landscape, the skies are perpetually rainy, and the autumn season makes for early darkness. The story revolves around two very different women whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. Lara is a struggling single mother with a mother back in Norway. We meet her in the opening scene when she can't pay for her groceries at the checkout counter. After eviction, she lives in her car. When Lara gets a job in passport security at the airport, she becomes complicit in arresting a woman named Adja who is from Guineas-Bissau and traveling on a fake passport. Adja is sent to a detention facility, then 30 days in prison, and then a chaotic refugee center full of other asylum seekers who are awaiting deportation hearings. At each step of the way Adja hears the same refrain: "It's the rules," says a prison guard. "It's just the system," says a government agent. And then her immigration lawyer: "I'm sorry, these are not my rules." But as Lara and Adja befriend each other, we know that this immigration story cannot be reduced to mere government bureaucracy. Lara's little boy Eldar, with his running innocent commentary throughout the film, emphasizes this point. At an animal shelter early in the movie he asks his mother: "Why do these cats have to live in cages?" I watched this movie on Netflix. In English and Icelandic with English subtitles.
Dan Clendenin: email@example.com