Wendy (Lena Headey) works as an immigration officer and is one of a kind when it comes to holding stone-faced interviews with illegal immigrants and refugees. That is until she sits in the chair opposite Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah), an asylum seeker escaping from the African continent, where he is accused of treason for not performing an execution when ordered by his military superior. Recounting his journey across Europe in search of asylum, Haile tells Wendy his story and about the people who he met and helped along the way through a series of flashbacks. His fate rests in Wendy’s hands. Will she stick to the script her superior Philip (Iain Glen) is forcing her to abide by, or will Haile’s tale resonate enough with her own family struggles to make her grant his asylum?
The full story can never be told just through writing on immigration papers and it is this factor that makes both the relationship between Headey and Jeremiah’s characters so intriguing and engaging alongside a narrative that we hear so much of yet also so little about in everyday news. There are side plots that keep the story ticking, but the main focus is rightfully on the trials and struggles of those refugees living day by day in the Calais Jungle, showing the inner politics and dog-eat-dog environment the refugees find themselves trapped in.
Headey and Glen both leave the Game of Thrones behemoth behind them with the series concluding last month, so both will be eager to see their careers branch out with greater flexibility and experimental versatility. In this instance, thankfully, the audience is able to welcome their characters with open arms and a fresh perspective rather than simply seeing their GOT roles. The talents and abilities of the actors are unquestionable in this film, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays the freedom-seeking Haile with such desperation and conviction viewers could genuinely believe that the actor had experienced the pains of his character firsthand. This, of course, is not the case, which makes the Black Mirror and Cold Feet star’s performance all the more astounding.
In a short but by no means sweet film, there is little emphasis on the importance of dialogue between characters, with the story being told through actions and emotions rather than on-the-nose exclamations. The soundtrack is cultural and relevant to the location of each scene, aiding the mood and ambience of each passing shot. But the breadth of plot is slightly narrow despite efforts to thicken the narrative web with crumbling family relationships and alcohol abuse, and there are a few scenes of dramatic cliché that attempt to raise the level of danger, but leave us questioning the relevance and necessity of them in the story arc.
There is a greater meaning to the film’s title: The Flood symbolises more than just the flood of people surging across Europe and the English Channel. The drowning of lives, liberty and freedom as asylum applications are refused is a very real problem facing governments today, leading to very deep and dark subject matter for this film, and something difficult to portray without beginning to present a political motif. One might wonder if the script may have worked more effectively as a two-part drama for TV rather than a heavy 98-minute feature film.
The Flood is released in select cinemas and on demand on 21st June 2019.
Watch the trailer for The Flood here: