Friday, March 10, 2017

Movie Review: "Fire at Sea" (2016)

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Movie"Fire at Sea"
Director: Maren Ade
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

A documentary that looks at life on the island of Lampedusa, a regular holding point for refugees and undocumented immigrants.

"Fire at Sea" is an Oscar nominated documentary written and directed by Gianfranco Rosi. The film is focused on the island of Lampedusa, which is about 200 km. off the coast of southern Italy and within close proximity of Libya. It is on this island where many refugees and undocumented immigrants fleeing war-torn nations in Africa and the Middle East flee. However, this documentary also focuses on some random kid and his family who live on this island. We see this kid make a sling shot, show his friend how to use it, and watch him and his family eat spaghetti. We see him go to the eye doctor and get treated for his lazy eye, then he and his friend cut up cacti for fun and tape them back together. We hear his grandmother request a song on the radio and tell a story about the fire at sea during the war, and we watch his dad show him how to steer a boat. This mundane display of uninteresting, everyday life for the natives of this island, unfortunately, makes this the single most boring documentary we have seen this year.

On occasion, Rosi takes a look at the refugees and immigrants being rescued from the ocean and the abhorrent medical conditions in which they arrive. They talk to the same doctor who the young boy visits for his lazy eye, a doctor with vast experience in treating many of these immigrants. This doctor reflects on the tragedy of the situations he sees day in and day out as starving, thirsty, fuel-soaked people are running for their lives, only to sometimes meet an incomprehensible fate. Just when we think we are about to get to something interesting or insightful, Rosi shifts gears back to this kid shooting his slingshot at birds and riding a vespa around the island. If we were really interested in learning something about the immigration crisis on Lampedusa, "Fire at Sea" isn't even the least bit enlightening about the struggles of immigrants and and refugees and offers no solutions about how the every-person can help.

We learned more from the opening blurb on the screen during "Fire at Sea" than we did in the entire nearly two-hour affair that followed. It's almost impossible to imagine how a drudgery of a film like this beat out other much more powerful documentaries like "Tower," "Gleason," "The Ivory Game," or "The Eagle Huntress," because even less than spectacular documentaries like "Into the Inferno" and "Sky Ladder" are more compelling. We understand what Rosi is trying to accomplish by showing a life of unknown luxury for those living on this island, those who haven't a care in the world about where their next meal will come from or if and when they will receive medical treatment, all while other human beings are fleeing rape, torture, and possible murder from nations with dictators, ISIS, slums, famine, and strife. The way Rosi executes this idea, however, is almost entirely unsuccessful. In reality, this two hour documentary only has about 15 minutes of compelling footage and the rest is, sadly, dull, unimportant filler.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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