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"Welcome Europa"

Directed by Bruno Ulmer.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  1/30/07


My first film at Sundance 2007 was the multinational documentary "Welcome Europa."  Clearly, after watching this film, I know one thing--being a street thug and a minority in modern-day Europe is some tough stuff!

The film covers the lives of about eight immigrants, young men who are of Romanian, Moroccan and Kurdish descent who come to Spain, France and other mainland European destinations looking for a new life after suffering in their respective homelands.  They find, much like many immigrants learn when trying to move to the U.S., that life is not as sunny as urban legend makes it sound, and most of the men struggle in their first few years in a new place--many have taken to drug dealing, male prostitution and other illegal professions in order to make enough cash to survive on a day-to-day basis.

Although "Welcome Europa" is a documentary, it has a style to it that makes it seem more like a feature drama, at least when it is not having interviews take place between an off-camera interviewer and each particular subject.  The camera shots are really tight--up close and personal takes on a new meaning in this film.  The actual story here wasn't that interesting to me, though, because the immigrant-struggles-as-a-fish-outta-water idea is quite well tread here in the States and changing the venue doesn't change the outcome for most of these guys.  It's a bit of been-there, done-that for an American filmgoer who sees these kinds of struggles in immigrant life here.

That's not to say that what is seen here isn't important; no, "Welcome Europa" still has plenty to say.  I just wasn't buying as this is supposed to be the freakin' Sundance Film Festival!  I'll be anxious to see if this one gets picked up.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09