While there’s little disputing Sharrock’s empathy for his dislocated, stranded characters . . . there’s something rather limited about his alteration of dry fish-out-of-water gags and scenes of people staring forlornly into the barren middle distance.
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A comedy about the migrant crisis is more daring than a coming-of-age story, and Limbo, wanting it both ways, dilutes its best instincts with sops to formula.
Guided by El-Masry’s tender, understated performance and a tone that hovers between playful and sincere, Limbo manages to turn its downbeat scenario into a sweet and touching rumination on the quest to belong in an empty world.
Limbo sincerely and intelligently finds its own way.
What begins as a modest and perhaps slight take on the refugee crisis tinged by an acquired yet welcome taste of British comedy, however, slowly reveals its underlying drama via the stark inevitability of its existence. You can only deflect from your plight so long before the stress and anxiety bubbles back to the surface.
It’s tempting — and not entirely inaccurate — to call this oddly moving little film a comedy-drama, but if so, it’s a dark one at that.
What a thoroughly wonderful sophomore feature from the British director Ben Sharrock – witty, poignant, marvellously composed and shot, moving and even weirdly gripping.
The narrowness of the frame forces us closer to what is caught within it, and the result is often bracing or achingly tender.
Limbo is an appealing little gem overall, with a feel-good message about the kindness of strangers that is glib and simplistic but hard to resist.
The poignancy and low-key desperation of the situation in which the men find themselves is balanced by the film’s warmth and gentle humour. In a market crowded with migrant stories, this is something special.