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Review: True North (2006)

Directed by: | 90 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Mullan, Martin Compston, Gary Lewis, , Angel Li, Hark Bohm, Wang Li Jun, , , Pat Kiernan, , Anna Breuer, , , Ning Ning Gho, , Feng Hui, , Han Jun, Jinge Li, , , , , He Hong Tao, Vue Lang Xue, Xue Sheng Ying, Zhao Yun, Lijuan Zhao,

A journey from Belgium to Scotland that turns out to be life-determining for four Scottish fishermen, but is just as vital for the Chinese immigrants, who are illegally transported in the cargo hold, that is what ‘True North’ offers the viewer. A compelling drama with thriller traits and frighteningly close to reality, the remark ‘inspired by true events’, which is missing here, could just come into the picture. In June 2000, 58 Chinese illegal immigrants were killed on a transport from Calais to Dover.The story of ‘True North’ was created by director and screenwriter Steve Hudson, who wondered what poor fishermen would do if they no other way out than people smuggling. Sean (Martin Compston) watches with sorrow how his father’s fishing company is being destroyed. Too little income is coming in and he is rightly worried. The boat is all his father has left and measures must be taken quickly if they are to be able to keep the ship. In Ostend, where the ship is anchored, on the advice of colleague Riley, he visits a shady trader (Hark Bohm) who offers him a pile of money in exchange for transporting a group of Chinese immigrants. Sean would have preferred to smuggle cigarettes, but also thinks this is easy to earn and hardly hesitates. On the advice of colleague Riley, he visits a shady trader (Hark Bohm) who offers him a pile of money in exchange for transporting a group of Chinese immigrants. Sean would have preferred to smuggle cigarettes, but also thinks this is easy to earn and hardly hesitates. On the advice of colleague Riley, he visits a shady trader (Hark Bohm) who offers him a pile of money in exchange for transporting a group of Chinese immigrants. Sean would have preferred to smuggle cigarettes, but also thinks this is easy to earn and hardly hesitates.

When Riley returns drunk from his visit to a Belgian brothel (which incidentally produces particularly amusing scenes), he discovers a queue of Chinese waiting on the boat. After his initial protests, however, he is soon made enthusiastic by Sean when he hears what the proceeds of this illegal cargo are (four thousand euros). The two accomplices try hard to keep their a secret from the captain and the ship’s cook. At the same time, they are faced with a life-size dilemma: if they return to their port without having enough catch, they will be irrevocably checked by customs, they will continue sailing for a few days longer to catch more fish, the Chinese will be able to stay under deck. to die.

The fact that the story is told from the fishermen is well chosen. Like the fishermen, the public now hardly knows anything about the Chinese, they remain anonymous. The only thing that can be said about this is that the first introduction scene seems a bit superfluous. The recordings in the North Sea are fantastic, an absolute top performance by the camera crew. The scenes that take place during the fierce storm have such power that you can only watch breathlessly. is very strong in his role as fluttering Riley, who appears to have a big heart despite his tough attitude towards life. This unexpected character development is just a surprise that Steve Hudson has in store for the viewer. We see Riley change from an ever-alcohol-consuming whore-runner and porn-lover to a man who turns out to have greater morals than those you would expect. He seems to have become the most sensible of the bunch in the end. Compston also convinces as a skipper who is torn between trying to save his father’s boat and his conscience, and the friendship that develops between the Chinese girl Su Li (Ang Lee) and the retarded ship’s cook (Steven ) is very moving. Robertson may put it a bit too thick on top, with his silly look, but he manages to keep his interpretation just under the bounds. Compston also convinces as a skipper who is torn between trying to save his father’s boat and his conscience, and the friendship that develops between the Chinese girl Su Li (Ang Lee) and the retarded ship’s cook (Steven Robertson) is very moving. Robertson may put it a bit too thick on top, with his silly look, but he manages to keep his interpretation just under the bounds. Compston also convinces as a skipper who is torn between trying to save his father’s boat and his conscience, and the friendship that develops between the Chinese girl Su Li (Ang Lee) and the retarded ship’s cook (Steven Robertson) is very moving. Robertson may put it a bit too thick on top, with his silly look, but he manages to keep his interpretation just under the bounds.

‘True North’ is an exciting and captivating film, beautiful, often spectacularly filmed and acted. The underlying message is very important. Must-see for those who like to watch social British dramas à la Ken Loach.

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