No plot description can really do this sweet, melancholy comedy justice; it's ineffable charm lies entirely in the delivery. Tanya (Dina Korzun), an attractive Russian immigrant, and her young son, Artiom (Artiom Strelnikov), arrive at London's Stansted Airport expecting to begin a new life with Tanya's British "fiancé." When he fails to meet them, Tanya panics and impulsively claims political asylum. The next thing she knows, she and Artiom are whisked off to Stonehaven, a desolate seaside resort that's seen better days; it now functions primarily as holding area for refugees waiting for their asylum applications to be processed a wait that can last anywhere from 12 to 16 months. Stonehaven has also become a refuge for assorted Brits who have fallen through the cracks, guys like Alfie (Paddy Considine), a boxer who once seriously hurt someone in a fight. He now sells phone cards and cigarettes from his post at the Dreamland arcade by day, and calls out lotto numbers at a local casino at night. Housed in a grim cinderblock tower overlooking a cheerless amusement park on what feels like the edge of the world, Tanya is herself a virtual prisoner and wants nothing more than to leave. Alfie, who's fallen in love with the Russian beauty, would like her to stay. Earlier in his career, Polish writer-director Paul Pawlikowski mostly made documentaries, and he approaches feature filmmaking with a vérité camera style and no real script. With just a bare plot outline in mind, he picks a locale and allows the story to emerge through his actors and their reactions to the environment. The strategy works here: The forlorn, dreamlike aura of Stonehaven suffuses the characters, while their own dislocation adds to the town's sense of timeless limbo. Also on the bill at select theaters: "The Heart of the World," the latest offering from Winnepeg's own Guy Madden. Madden compresses everything from German Expressionism, Constructivist sci-fi and Soviet Kino-Eye cinema into five breathlessly edited, totally mind-blowing minutes.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: No plot description can really do this sweet, melancholy comedy justice; it's ineffable charm lies entirely in the delivery. Tanya (Dina Korzun), an attractive Russian immigrant, and her young son, Artiom (Artiom Strelnikov), arrive at London's Stansted Ai… (more)