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MOVIES: Leave to Remain – Advance Preview: “My Story…It’s All I Have”

Leave to Remain is the stunning, often jarring tale of several teenagers seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. This film follows the stories of Zizidi, Omar, and Abdul as they struggle to stay safe in England as political refugees. However a new country with new languages and customs, as well as the unsympathetic eye of bureaucracy scrutinizing their every move, proves to be more of an obstacle than any of these young people could imagine. What we see in Leave to Remain is a coming of age story almost in reverse where these young people strive to reignite the spark of youth that has been smothered by the harrowing experiences that caused them to grow up far too quickly.

The use of music in Leave to Remain is especially remarkable. Alt-J, an English indie rock band, is featured on the soundtrack, and brings a surreal quality to the film with their unique sound. It causes the viewer to feel as if they are floating through a dream. Or nightmare, depending on the scene. And the absence of haunting music or sound also helps to highlight more powerful moments and gives the audience a taste of what it was like to try and sort out a situation without words as any one of these asylum seekers who didn’t speak English would have to.

The performances from the young cast are very well done. They portrayed youth so naturally and yet the main cast was able to carry the heaviness of their individual stories. The cast was able to showcase a mixture of desperation, celebration, and hope without over-presenting the material. Often the core of a scene would be in a look, a gesture, a movement of the eyes, and it would speak volumes as to the character’s motivation.

I think the thing I loved most about Leave to Remain is that it shows both sides of teens within their stories. Often the action would swing from a light-hearted moment in the lives of these young people to a sterner situation where we are reminded why these teenagers are in England in the first place. The audience doesn’t suffer from mood whiplash with this change; more so we get the feeling of how life must wax and wane for these kids.

Leave to Remain is based on the true stories of teenagers looking for safety and portrays the many facets of life that come with moving from one hostile country to, unfortunately, another. Directed by BAFTA award winner Bruce Goodison and featuring the talents of celebrated actor Toby Jones, Leave to Remain will open your eyes to the asylum process as you watch these teens struggle to reclaim themselves.

Leave to Remain premieres 9pm BST, May 31st on BBC Three. It will also be available on iPlayer.

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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