Director: Anthony Woodley
Cast: Lena Headey, Iain Glen
Watch The Flood online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema
Lena Headey is superb in this low-key drama that explores one of the UK’s most divisive political issues on a personal level. The film follows Wendy, an immigration officer known for her cool efficiency on the job. Until one day, she finds herself getting caught up in the case of an asylum seeker.
The man in question is Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah), who has travelled from Eritrea to reach the UK. Found in the back of a truck, he was arrested by the police, lashing out at one of the officers in the process. With pressure from the government to resolve the matter swiftly and avoid bad publicity, Wendy is the first choice to process his claim and keep to her quota. But the more she learns about Haile, the more she’s moved by his story.
That story is meted out to us in flashbacks, cued by their interview, and they take us back to his time in the Calais jungle, where it’s survival of the fittest to stay alive, let alone get out and across the border. And, eventually, we go back further still, to find out why he’s fleeing his country in the first place.
The result is an honest effort to humanise the migrants behind media headlines and bring to life their experiences – the script is based on director Anthony Woodley, writer Helen Kingston and producer Luke Healy’s time volunteering in Calais. Jeremiah is fantastic as Haile, conveying everything thing from fear and panic to determination and courage, often without saying many words at all. Headey is also convincing as the conflicted case worker, with strong support from Iain Glen as her number-crunching boss.
It’s a shame, then, that they’re not given a better script to work with. The film is at its best in their one-to-one exchanges, but gets distracted by a subplot about Wendy’s home life and personal demons, trying to be too even-handed to really land the blows it appears to want to against the immigration system. As a result, Haile’s story has to wrap up a little too neatly within the film’s short runtime, shortchanging him with a conclusion that feels more contrived than universal. Well acted and well intentioned, The Flood is a compelling, sincere drama, but one that only highlights the powerful work done by documentaries tackling the same subject with more clarity.
The Flood is available now in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.