London River (12A)

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The Independent Culture

French film-maker Rachid Bouchareb, who directed the great Days of Glory, has crossed the Channel to make this sincere and poignant drama about the terrorist attacks of 7 July 2005.

Elizabeth (Brenda Blethyn) is a churchgoing widow who leaves her Guernsey home to search for her student daughter in the aftermath of the London bombings. While visiting emergency rooms and hospital morgues, her path crosses that of Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyaté), a North African Muslim from France, whose son, also missing, was involved with Elizabeth's daughter. Sympathy for Blethyn's anxious mother is occasionally undermined by an inkling that she's an old-school bigot ("Who speaks Arabic?"), but Bouchareb's tender observation of the strangers' growing friendship, and shared distress, can't help but move. The picture of the tatty, workaday, multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Blackstock Road has the freshness of an outsider's eye.