Parents' Guide to

Limbo

By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Amusing British refugee drama has racist language, trauma.

Movie R 2021 103 minutes
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Written and directed by Ben Sharrock in what is only his second directorial feature, this superb British movie, set on a remote Scottish island, is a film full of contrasts. Limbo is both about isolation and community. It's heartbreaking yet hilarious. Bleak but hopeful. In many ways, these counter-positions are encapsulated by the movie's two halves. The first half of the movie is littered with comedic moments as the absurdity of the refugees' situation plays out. But by the second half, and following an unexpected tragedy, the mood has very much turned as the monotony and boredom felt by Omar and his fellow refugees takes over, as they wait for a faceless institution to tell them if they can stay in the country or not.

Rather than jar, this change in emotional tack feels natural and in sync with Omar's own feelings. As each day passes, and after yet another phone call back to his family -- who are now living in Turkey -- Omar begins to second guess his decision to leave his country, and what little enthusiasm he had gradually drains away. It's not all bleakness and misery. Omar's fellow refugee and Freddie Mercury enthusiast, Farhad (Vikash Bhai), provides the comic relief along with odd couple Helga (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Boris (Kenneth Collard) who ensure the men are all "prepared" for their integration into Western society. The opening scene in which Helga and Boris demonstrate to the men how to behave with women in a nightclub is laugh-out-loud funny. A story that is frequently portrayed in the news, Limbo adds a humane and untold element to what life as a refugee is really like.

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