The Cardboard Village – September 15

Hands up all those who know and live Michael Lonsdale. Who some of you may ask? I think he is one of the more underrated actors with a long and distinguished career going back to the 60’s. He starred in Is Paris Burning and The Bride Wore Black in the early 60’s but his breakout movie was The Day of the Jackal in 1973 in which he played the French inspector who tracks down and kills Edward Fox as the assassin. Last year he starred in Of Gods and Men a wonderful French film about a small group of monks in an Algerian village and this year he is an elderly priest in another French film about illegal immigrants. He is a French actor of English descent and is fluent in both French and English making him a very versatile resource. A brilliant character actor who deserves recognition from The Academy but sadly will likely never get it. This small movie is about a priest whose church has been deconsecrated leaving him with no congregation or purpose. He fears he is losing his faith and with it all the meaning in his life which has until then been dedicated to the poor community he has served. Shortly after the church is shuttered and locked it is invaded by a small group of illegal African immigrants who are being hunted by the police. The old priest gives them sanctuary and hides them despite the fact that they may also harbour terrorists. An interesting theme this year is the number of European films dealing with illegal immigration and the moral challenge it poses for countries like Italy and France specifically. From Le Havre, which takes a light but still humane angle on the theme, to this more serious film, the moral and personal implications of this increasingly difficult challenge are explored intelligently. This issue will continue to grow in the coming years due to climate change and what is really the beginning of an enormous human migration. We can expect to see more on this topic in documentaries and dramas in the years to come. We must all pay attention and not trivialize this issue. The film makes a powerful statement about this.

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