Review: 'Babai' - Nana Van de Poel
With refugees clamoring at the gates of Europe, ‘Babai’, the story about the abandoned 10‐year old Nori following his father on a perilous journey to Germany, hits closer to home than it would have just a year ago.
Although Visar Morina’s debut actually takes place in the Kosovo of the early nineties, a sense of immediacy imposes itself as the shaky‐cam technique is utilized for maximum effect. Moving through the streets of Kosovo and into refugee boats heading to the Italian shore, the camera humping and bumping along with Nori creates the illusion of watching a documentary, although the fairly manipulative nature of this choice may be questioned considering the hot button topic at hand.
Morina keeps his framing carefully pinned to the boy with the long‐lashed, expressive eyes. In one of the more gripping scenes, Nori clutches at his fathers waist time and time again in a desperate attempt to keep him from entering the bus that will take him away. As we’re floating on eye‐level with our scrappy protagonist, all we see of the man that’s supposed to take care of him is a shirt as he turns his back. The same limited point of view can make an action sequence seem somewhat scrambled. When a resentful Nori hits his father over the head with a chair upon their reunion, it takes a second to register what happened exactly.
Fitting camera angles and a timely release aside however, ‘Babai’ doesn’t get much further than the chronicling of suffering and hardship of economic migration. Choppy editing and a rather textureless screenplay make sure the surface remains unpunctured.