After watching the tedious and challenging DRIVE MY CAR this past weekend, I decided to tackle one more tough viewing experience with the animated docu-drama, FLEE. The results? I’m glad I didn’t flee early from the slow-moving film because, unlike DRIVE MY CAR, FLEE deserves most of the critical praise it’s receiving.
FLEE tells the story of Amin Nawabi, a gay refugee from Afghanistan that has a secret he has been hiding for twenty years. One of the first lines in the movie is “When did you first realize you’re gay?” so I do not view that as a spoiler (nor is it the secret that Amin has been hiding for twenty years).
Utilizing an animation style similar to Richard Linklater’s WAKING LIFE, director Jonas Poher Rasmussen can protect Amin’s true identity. It’s an impressive combo of animation, archival footage, and documentary audio interviews woven into one seamless narrative.
Today, we still see stories on the news about refugees fleeing other countries to come to America. FLEE puts a narrative behind one man’s journey in hopes of connecting audiences to other people’s stories that weren’t as lucky as Amin.
While watching FLEE, I was reminded of Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel, MAUS. The book is about the holocaust but illustrated with cats and mice. Despite both stories being extremely demanding material for audiences, the drawing style makes them more accessible. An aside, though, FLEE is nowhere near the classic that MAUS is, but it’s still good in its own unique way.
FLEE is Denmark’s official submission for International Feature at this year’s Oscars. However, it might just receive a Documentary and Animated Feature nomination as well. As for me, I have no problem with FLEE taking home the award for Best Documentary. But please leave Animated for THE MITCHELL’S VS. THE MACHINES and International Feature for PARALLEL MOTHERS.
FLEE is available in limited theatres.