Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original title: Die Farbe des Ozeans
Germany/Spain, 2011. Südart Filmproduktion, Starhaus Filmproduktion, El Olivo Producciones Audiovisuales, Noirfilm, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ARTE, Südwestrundfunk, 40° Filmproduktion. Screenplay by Maggie Peren. Cinematography by Armin Franzen. Produced by Boris Jendreyko, Thomas Klimmer. Music by Carolin Heiss, Marc-Sidney Muller. Production Design by Julian R. Wagner. Costume Design by Manuel Bonillo. Film Editing by Simon Blasi. Toronto International Film Festival 2011.
Three stories are intertwined in this drama about illegal immigration in modern-day Europe: a man and his son who survive a boat trip from Africa to the shores of the Canary Islands, an embittered police officer who is in charge of refugees after they have been apprehended on the beach, and a German tourist who accidentally becomes personally involved after she gives the man water for his dying son. Director Maggie Peren does a terrific job of balancing these narratives for a mini-Babel effect without allowing too much of it to go into “grand theme” territory. The film does not have a preachy tone to it, but sympathizes with the points of view of all characters; the tourist’s concerned fiancé has good reason to beg her to not get involved with things beyond her abilities, while the police officer has personal demons of his own that contribute to his hard-heartedness. The only flaw that this film’s respectable dramatics could be accused of is a rather flat characterization of its African protagonists, who come off more as types than as fully realized people; they are meant to be the heart of the story but don’t strike enough genuine notes to really make it lift off the screen.