IMDb Rating: 6.6/10
2h 1min | Drama | 20 Aug 2020 (Germany) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88% Fresh (Critic Reviews)
Director: Visar Morina
Writer: Visar Morina, Ulrich Köhler
Stars: Misel Maticevic, Sandra Hüller, Rainer Bock
IMDb summary: EXIL tells the story of a chemical engineer of foreign origin who feels discriminated and bullied at work, plunging him into an identity crisis.
When a movie hits you hard, you know. You suddenly feel what the principal character is feeling, you are almost transported. Watching Misel Maticevic on screen was both enlightening and harrowing all at once. And while the character’s situation in a toxic work environment may not be unique, it speaks volumes to the audience about the darker side of human nature we’d rather ignore than discuss.
Exile is the story of Xhafer who is an Engineer from Albania working in Germany. He has a family, a German wife and for all intents and purposes, seems to fit in well at first. But slowly you see just how looks can be deceiving. Xhafer does not feel like he belongs anywhere, and this alienation that he feels slowly seeps into every part of his life.
Relating to this character had its challenges. Not because he was difficult to relate to, but because he was too easy to relate to. Everyone, at some point in their lives, understands at least a little of what Xhafer is going through. That horrible feeling that you can’t trust anyone. And the few people that you trust are slowly being pushed further and further away from you until everyone becomes one big blur you no longer recognise. That’s real. And it’s disturbing to see it played out on the screen so realistically.
Even when paranoia gets the best of you, and it’s difficult to tell what’s happening versus what you think is happening, alienation, no matter how small, will suck the life out of you if you let it. As a character, Xhafer was strong and motivated throughout to understand the issue he believed to be causing havoc in his life. He was brutally honest with his peers and his management team, who seemed entirely disinterested in his plight. Again, a feeling all too familiar.
The building he worked in also captured a certain something that made you feel almost claustrophobic. The office seemed like a maze, and Xhafer’s desperation seemed only to increase the further around the office he went. The camera work was superb here, as it truly captured the isolation and desperation that Xhafer was feeling by focusing on a third-person view as he walked through the office. Everything seemed angular and unfriendly.
This film is special and a well-chosen candidate from the New Zealand International Film Festival for 2020. It’s a standout film and will be remembered for many days to come.