Friday, August 26, 2011


Living in Texas, we hear a lot about the threat of illegal immigration and the social consequences it brings.  I guess I never think much about illegal immigration to other countries.  Welcome tells the story of a young Kurd from Iraq who works his way to France and tries to stowaway on a truck bound for England across the English channel.  He gets caught hiding in a truck and tries to come up with other options for crossing the channel.  He jumps on the obvious, but difficult, option of swimming across.  He begins training with a swim coach who befriends him and helps him out, and determines that he will swim the channel to be reunited with his long lost love.
Hey coach, how far is it to England?
Welcome challenges notions of immigration, drawing the viewer emotionally to the side of immigrants and their advocates.  The movie definitely plays on sympathy for the poor teenager who has traveled hundreds of miles to escape hardship and oppression in his homeland.  After all, why wouldn't any country welcome someone from the oppressed Kurdish people of Iraq?  And on top of that, he wants to be reunited with his sweetheart?  How can any bureaucracy deny him that?

I don't know much about immigration laws.  I was surprised how openly the immigrants lived in France; it was as if the French were happy to provide a launching pad for immigrants wanting to go to England.  Welcome doesn't set out to seriously address immigration policy, it only appeals to emotion, demonstrating that a moving story should not move policy.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

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