The Flood (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Anthony Woodley, UK, 2019, 99 mins

Cast:  Lena Headey, Ivanno Jeremiah, Iain Glen, Arsher Ali, Mandip Gill,

Review by Carol Allen

The flood of the title refers not to water as such, but to the so-called flood of refugee displaced persons into the UK in this instance, which the government is so eager to stem.  

The film follows the story of one such refugee in particular.  Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah) has fought his way across Europe from his native Eritrea, where his life is in danger, to the Calais Jungle and finally to the UK.   Here he is faced with interrogation by hardened immigration officer Wendy (Lena Headey) and her supervisor (Iain Glen), who are under pressure from the Home Office to reject Haile, whose story has become front page news.

The film makers, director Anthony Woodley, writer Helen Kingston, and producer Luke Healy, created their story out of time they spent as volunteers in the Jungle asking refugees about their experiences and then through further research interviewing former Home Office officials to get the other side of the story.

The result is a well thought out and well balanced human drama with the ring of authenticity.

Despite her reputation for efficiently and clinically despatching applicants, we also see the other side of Wendy as a woman with human problems of her own.   Jeremiah, best known probably as the gentle leader of the “synths” in the television series Humans, engages our empathy, as Haile’s story is told in flashback in the context of his interrogation by Wendy – the torture he endures in his homeland, his perilous journey across the sea, where he nearly drowns and his time in the Jungle, where he befriends Pakistani couple Nasrat (Arsher Ali) and Reema (Mandip Gill), with whom he is smuggled into the UK in a miserable journey hidden in the back of a truck.

The film’s limited budget does however give the film more the feeling of a television piece rather than a film for the big screen and if television companies were still interested in making one off dramas rather than series extending over weeks, this would be perfect for such a slot.  The final outcome of the story too would perhaps be somewhat harsher and nearer to real world reality were this made for the smaller screen.

The performances however are all good and appropriately moving, the detail convincing and above all the film has its heart in the right place in its dramatization of what is now an all too common real life human drama.