Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

The Flood review: Anthony Woodley

The Flood review: Anthony Woodley
21 Jun
2019
In this moving, sometimes harrowing film from director Anthony Woodley, the relationship between an asylum seeker and an immigration official takes centre stage, humanising both individuals through two excellent performances

The Flood opens with hardened immigration officer Wendy (played by Lena Headey of Game of Thrones fame) firing questions at asylum seekers with dead-behind-the-eyes efficiency. Soon she takes on a new case, that of Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah), a refugee from an unnamed African country who manages to get under her skin. Through a series of prolonged flashbacks, Haile recounts his horrific journey to the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais and finally to the UK. 

As is only right, Haile’s story takes up most screen time - the reality of a refugee’s journey to Europe portrayed with devastatingly accurate detail. Above all else it is the dehumanising impact of this experience that is emphasised: ‘It was the first time in 9,000 kilometres someone asked my name,’ Haile recounts when a fellow refugee shows him a modicum of kindness. This stripping away of humanity is further emphasised through a fairly uncompromising look at the British immigration system. While the majority of the film is vividly shot over a wide range of brutal landscapes, there is something particularly chilling in the repeated return to the clinical white room of the asylum interview. 

FloodLena Headey as immigration officer Wendy

Woodley’s greatest success in The Flood is the way he leaves room for sympathy both for Haile, whose innocence and goodness could elicit no other emotion, but also for Wendy, whose coldness is gradually revealed to be a mask that allows her to do her job in the face of demanding Home Office targets. Though at no point is the viewer under any illusion who has led the harder life, the gradual softening of the relationship reveals the fundamental human need for emotional connection against all the odds.

The film ultimately offers a positive view of human nature that may not wash, given all the horrors it portrays, but this doesn't detract from the ultimate message - that refugees who reach the UK have often gone through horrific ordeals and that for many, there is no happy ending. 

The Flood is on general release at cinemas and on demand from today. 

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

Give the gift of adventure this year with these superb…

Books

by David Sim • Island Press • £26 (paperback)

Books

by Tamin Ansary • Public Affairs • £21.99 (hardback)

Books

DK • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Philip Marsden • Granta • £20 (hardback)

Books

by James Lovelock • Allen Lane • £14.99 (hardback)

Exhibitions

The largest collection of treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb ever to…

Films

Fresh from an award-winning screening at the Sundance Film Festival…

Films

The inside story about The Cave – the first feature…

Books

by Laura Waters • Affirm Press (via bookdepository.com) • £16.61 (paperback)

Books

by John Halpern, MD and David Blistein • Hachette Book…

Books

by Gavin Thurston • Seven Dials • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Jon Gertner • Icon Books • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Justin Marozzi • Allen Lane • £25 (hardback)

Exhibitions

The Great Animal Orchestra combines the audio recordings of bioacoustics…

Films

Hotel Mumbai shares a true story of heroism in the…

Films

A moving coming-of-age story about a young black man’s struggle…

Books

by Raja Shehadeh • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback)