Flee (2021) Film Review A+


Flee will leave you spellbound.

Jonas and Amin.

Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen has been a friend of Amin Nawabi since they were teenagers. They attended the same school in Denmark. Amin has always been guarded and highly private. However, now that he is about to marry his partner, Kasper, Amin has decided to open up to Jonas. For the first time, he will share his hidden past and how he fled Afghanistan with his mother, older brother, and two sisters.

The Soviet Withdrawal in 1989.

After nine years of occupation, the Soviets began to withdraw their troops in 1988, leaving the Afghan people to be “governed” by the mujahideen and their strict Islamic Codes. These codes outlined their disdain for education, particularly the education of women. Over the next few years, the mujahideen would morph into the Taliban. The Mujahideen had already killed Amin’s father, a pilot, and, being part of the educated middle class, his remaining family would be directly targeted as well.

Stranded in Moscow

They barely make it to Moscow since Russia is the only country that would grant them an exit visa. But that was just the beginning of their misery. In Moscow, they were stuck without the proper papers and at the mercy of the ultra-corrupt Russian police. Believe me when I tell you that the Russian authorities do NOT come across well in this film. They must wait until an older brother in Sweden can raise enough money to pay smugglers to get them out of Russia and into some Western European country—the cruelty and selfishness of the smuggler rival that of the Russian police. After years of “rotting” in Moscow, Amin eventually makes it to Denmark.

An offer that Rasmussen could not refuse.

Initially meant to be a short film, after hearing Amin’s fantastic story, Rasmussen decided to convert the movie into an animated feature. The result is “Flee,” and what a gift for us, the audience! Rasmussen’s animation is stunningly crisp with astonishing depth of focus. The technique allows him much greater freedom of expression than expected. On the several attempts at being smuggled to the West, it would not have been possible to tell this story with live actors, or, if he did, it would not be possible for an audience to watch it. I was reminded of Atom Egoyan’s failed attempt to make a film about the Armenian genocide with “Ararat.” Things might have been different if he had made it as an animated feature.

Amin’s sexual orientation.

But there is another astonishing element to this film: Amins’s sexuality. Knowing that he is gay from an early age, his view of society and his displacement to foreign lands is, therefore, seen and experienced from the point of view of a double outsider. This also leads to some hilarious situations. The film is permanently buoyant and life-affirming even at its bleakest moments.

I left the cinema with that “floating-on-air feeling” after seeing something memorable after witnessing a masterpiece.






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