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Review: Lena Headey drama ‘The Flood’ dryly humanizes refugee crisis

Lena Headey in the movie ‘The Flood’
Lena Headey in the movie “The Flood.”
(Luke Healy)

There’s no flood in “The Flood,” which is, presumably, the point.

The British film goes inside the current refugee crisis as veteran immigration officer Wendy (Lena Headey of “Game of Thrones”) interviews an arrested man (Haile, played by Ivanno Jeremiah) to determine whether his asylum claim has merit. Wendy has demons of her own — alcoholism, a painful divorce — and Haile is not entirely forthcoming.

The film doesn’t depict a horde of terrorists in sheep’s clothing; rather, those risking their lives to make it to England are legitimately fleeing oppression or seeking better lives. This is no spoiler — though the story is told mostly through flashback, it makes no attempt to disguise intentions. We know who’s lying and why. That serves the film’s agenda of humanizing migrants but dries up dramatic possibilities.

The filmmakers claim to have researched extensively and used the accounts of actual refugees and immigration officers. The movie bears the imprimatur of Human Rights Watch and, after this limited release, will stream during World Refugee Week in June. Headey, an activist with the International Rescue Committee, also served as executive producer.

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Written by Helen Kingston and directed by Anthony Woodley, the film is well-intentioned and rooted in harrowing real-life stories. Unfortunately, it’s made in the style of British television, with cinematic clichés that telegraph outcomes. The heavy-handed use of music, in particular, is intrusive.

The performances are good. Headey is understated as the troubled immigration officer. Jeremiah conveys a good but desperate man. As fellow traveler Faiz, Peter Singh is sympathetic; as Faiz’s pregnant wife, Reema, Mandip Gill is touching.

Sadly, that’s not enough to make up for “The Flood’s” mere trickle of drama.

‘The Flood’
Not rated

Running time: 1 hours, 37 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 28, Laemmle Monica Film Center 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica

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Trailer for 2018 Lena Headey refugee-crisis drama “The Flood.”


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