London River (UK-France-Algeria, 2009)

Difference together

Difference together

Rachid Bouchareb’s (he directed and co-wrote) London River takes the personal angle on loss after the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005. Both Ousmane (the late Sotigui Kouyaté) and Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) are seeking their lost children, grown up, children in the aftermath of the bombings. At first she is fearful of the ‘tall black man’ as her small island (she lives in Guernsey) prejudices flounder in multi-cultural London but, inevitably (for what sort of film would it be otherwise?), she comes to understand they have more in common than differences. Both Kouyaté and Blethyn are brilliant; he restrained, she unhinged.

The film successfully conveys the confusion, fear and grief wrought by the four bombers; they truly succeeded in creating terror at the cost of their lives. The perspective focuses on the personal, rather than the political; much in the way social media enables us to understand the suffering of the Palestinians as their country is currently being razed to the ground by the perversely named Israeli Defence Forces. While the mainstream news outlets, understandably, emphasise the political situation, Twitter – in particular – gives us snapshots of the terror experienced by the victims (although Jon Snow’s – the C4 News anchor – humanitarian video blurs the boundaries).

It will take a paradigm shift for many Israelis and Palestinians to realise that they have more in common than differences but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The starting point might be ending the West’s hypocrisy in supporting Israel’s crimes against humanity.

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