An Unexpectedly Beautiful, Tender Tale in Time of War
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"WHERE ESKIMOS LIVE is one of those surprise films that appears out of nowhere, without ballyhoo, not apparently having been on the theatrical release circuit, yet once discovered serendipitously in the video store and watched, makes such an impact that its anonymity is a puzzle. Writer/director Tomasz Wiszniewski (with Robert Brutter sharing the writing credits) has created a unique and brave little film that takes advantage of some unknown terrain and retains the flavor of a country in all manner of representation.
The place is Bosnia during the war when entire cities were being destroyed, leaving the children homeless, without parents, fending for themselves in any way possible. They live in squalor, in famine, stealing what they can to survive, yet holding together as a group with some sense of hopeless dignity. Among these boys is Vlado (Sergiusz Zymelka), a street-smart kid always on the lookout for his Down's Syndrome friend while seeking any way possible to escape his fate. Enter Sharkey (Bob Hoskins) brandishing a UNICEF passport and badge (he is from Norway where Eskimos live...!) trying to 'save' one small boy from the war to freedom and protection across the border. He meets all manner of opposition, especially from the military Colonel Vuko (Krzysztof Majchrzak), who decides to let Sharkey pass on the condition that Sharkey take his sole young daughter to safety. Fate strikes, the jeep with the Colonel's daughter explodes and Sharkey narrowly escapes with the Colonel in hot pursuit mistakenly thinking the landmine that destroyed the jeep was engineered by Sharkey. Sharkey encounter's Vlado's gang and eventually Vlado talks Sharkey into taking him as the 'saved' boy, fully realizing that Sharkey's Unicef badge is a cover for his unlawful child marketing. The two bond slowly and in time each uses the other for their private goals and gradually they grow to need each other to survive. Their relationship is radiant and inspiring and leads them to surprising changes in their lives.
The cast is extraordinary: Hoskins knows how to make an evil con man grow on his viewer and Sergiusz Zymelka is a gifted young actor. The film is difficult to watch at times because the camera does not shy away from the heinous crimes and gore of war, but that fact only serves to make the story more credible. The dialogue is a bit shallow and awkward at times, but the message is obviously from the heart. This is a fine low budget film from a Polish director and cast that makes us take notice of unknown talents. It is a fine little film! Grady Harp, July 06
A must see! Americans have no idea how nasty the world can r
S. Lee | Middle Earth | 09/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is not just great because of Bob Hoskins, or Sergiusz Zymelka's stellar performances or because of great directing by Tomasz Wiszniewski. This story shows how desperate and tragic, yet normal life is (for those living in such situations) and how cruel it can be in impoverished war torn countries run by military fanatics. This is a truly heartwarming story of a merchant of flesh who, through his relationship and travails with his merchandise ends up unwittingly and somewhat unwillingly changing his views on his own morality. That merchandise happens to be a 9 year old boy who, with wonderful acting skills, captivates not only his merchant, but the audience as well. Sergiusz Zymelka will absolutely take your heart away. When you see this film it makes you really wonder what our priorities are and what they really should be."