Cinema's latest odd couple in film on UK bombings

Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:15am EST
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By Mike Collett-White BERLIN (Reuters) - In a moving film based around the 2005 suicide bombings in London, an unlikely friendship develops between a reclusive, prejudiced white woman from Guernsey and a towering African man who arrives in the city from France.

In "London River," the physical contrast between Mrs. Sommers, played by British star Brenda Blethyn, and Ousmane, played by Malian actor Sotigui Kouyate, is striking. They speak different languages. She is a Christian, he is a Muslim.

But through a common quest to find their children who go missing after the July 7, 2005 attacks, the strangers gradually become close and realize they have more in common than they ever would have imagined.

As well as desperately seeking news of their loved ones, neither of the missing children knew their fathers -- Ousmane left his family when his son was six, and Mr. Sommers was a navy officer killed in the 1982 Falklands War.

London River, directed by French-Algerian Rachid Bouchareb, is a portrait of the human suffering caused by violence, and how it is common to people of all backgrounds.

The movie, which has its premiere at the Berlin film festival on Tuesday, was warmly applauded by journalists and critics at a press screening and Blethyn could be in the running for a best actress award at the prize ceremony on February 14.

Mrs. Sommers comes to the teeming streets of London from the solitude of her isolated farm, and is taken aback by the ethnic diversity of the area her daughter Jane was living in.


When she meets Ousmane, with whom she converses in French throughout the story, she is wary, but when she discovers a link between them her preconceptions fall away.   Continued...