London River ***(15) Directed by: Rachid Bouchareb Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Sotigui Louyaté, Roschdy Zem
THIS gentle melodrama uses the July 2005 terrorist bombings in London as a jumping off point for a tender tale of clashing cultures united in grief.
When news reaches Guernsey farmer Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) of the attacks, her inability to reach her London-based daughter convinces her to travel to the capital to track her down.
Once there she meets African-Frenchman Ousmane (the late Sotigui Louyat), who has travelled to London for similar reasons: the mother of his estranged Muslim son has asked him to track him down.
Though Elisabeth regards Ousmane warily at first, especially as it transpires her daughter and his son were in some kind of relationship, both actors show with grace and quiet skill the instinctive way people reach out to each other in tragedy. The film, directed by the French-Algerian Rachid Bouchareb (who made the politically charged war film Days of Glory), also gives an insightful outsider's perspective on the city by highlighting not only the way prejudice can make people quick to judge who really belongs, but by overturning such thinking to show how acceptance is the bedrock of any community.