Leave to Remain ***Dir: Bruce Goodison. With: Noof Ousellam, Zarrien Masieh, Yasmin Mwanza, Toby Jones. 89 mins. Cert: 15
Bruce Goodison’s evidently well-researched drama picks up where last year’s huge-hearted I Am Nasrine left off, considering the fate of teenage refugees stuck in an East London limbo, waiting to hear from the Home Office. With opening stats – pointing out that only one in ten young migrants is granted permanent UK residency – casting an ominous shadow over proceedings, Goodison’s interest resides in how these kids fill the downtime: he runs processes of the state (day trips, hearings, medical once-overs) parallel to these individuals’ attempts to put past traumas (tribal warfare, rape, FGM) behind them – a far rockier process of adaptation. It’s a small, everyday story – so grounded in experiences of the system that the ending looks a half-shade too optimistic – yet it never feels like a tract, or TV: Goodison displays a sure, Shane Meadows-like touch with his lively unknown leads, and finds eloquent, cinematic ways of describing their hopes, dreams and fears.
Leave to Remain opens in selected cinemas from tomorrow.