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see also: Rendition.


Extraordinary Rendition
cast: Andy Serkis, Omar Berdouni, Ania Sowinski, Jimmy Yuill, and Hugh Ross

director: Jim Threapleton

77 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Liberation DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
'Extraordinary rendition' is the term used to describe a situation where someone is abducted illegally by the government and transported to a country that practices torture. Once there, a confession of terrorism can be extracted. This short film was produced on a minimal budget, uses a guerrilla-style of filmmaking, and was largely improvised by a small cast. The look of the film - washed out, drab colours; dusty shadows - is a testament to the skills of the director of photography, Duncan Telford, and the acting is uniformly good - particularly by Omar Berdouni in a difficult lead role.

There is little by way of plot; the story is an intimate one, following the plight of Zaafir (Berdouni), a Muslim academic kidnapped from a London street in broad daylight and transported to an unnamed land where he is tortured into signing a confession by a menacing nameless inquisitor (another excellent performance by the talented Andy Serkis). This starts out with the feel of something written by Kafka, then turns into something more contemporary and political - a look at a paranoid reality that we are aware of but rarely confront. Repression, interrogation, torture, extremism, paranoia... all these themes are examined in a way that the viewer finds difficult to ignore.

The film itself does suffer from a somewhat erratic structure, with scenes flashing between time-frames (before, during, and after Zaafir's ordeal) with an often-disorientating speed. This left me confused regarding the chronology of events, and seemed to distance me from the drama. The torture scenes are suitably painful to watch, and although they are certainly graphic they are in no way gratuitous.

The end result is a work to be admired rather than enjoyed; the film's aims and intentions are noble but the execution lets it down. Despite these flaws, I would urge everyone to see the film and make up their own minds. Some themes need to be confronted, and the makers of Extraordinary Rendition should be applauded for doing so in a manner that is far from the standard Hollywood fare.

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