Directed by: Costa-Gavras
Written by:Costa-Gavras, Jean-Claude Grumberg
Starring: Riccardo Scamarcio, Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos, Lea Wiazemsky, Tess Spentzos, Kristen Ross
Released: August 20, 2009
Grade: A-

There were plenty of films on offer at the recent Brisbane International Film Festival and one of the highlights for me was Eden Is West.  It has been brought to the screen by legendary Greek director Costa-Gavras.  He’s now 76 years of age but it’s great to see Costa-Gavras still churning out movies.  He’s most famous for Z, which became only the second foreign language film to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards way back in 1970.

This is a beautifully told story centred on a shy young man named Elias (Scamarcio).  When we first meet Elias, he is travelling in a freighter on the Aegean Sea.  He is escaping his current life and is looking to start a new one on the European mainland.  As the boat nears the coast, it is spotted by the authorities.  Not wanting to be captured and deported, Elias jumps ship and swims ashore.

He ends up at a coastal holiday resort which is packed with tourists.  The police are scouring the place for any illegal immigrants who did escape from the freighter and so Elias must conceal himself.  He befriends a French woman who allows him to hide out in her room.

Whilst at a resort party, Elias helps a travelling magician who promises him a job if he can find his way to Paris.  Thus begins a live changing journey.  He meets an assortment of people along the way – some helpful, some not so helpful.

Elias is a likeable character but there is greyness to the story.  It gives you plenty of food for thought regarding illegal immigrants and their place in the world.  Yes, what they’re doing is wrong but if you were in the same position as them, would you do the same thing?  I think many people would answer that question in the affirmative.

Like the magician in the film, I had a sense that director Costa-Gavras was trying to weave a little magic of his own – transforming the film into a modern-day fairy-tale.  There are a few close shaves for Elias and there are few peculiar happenings also.  I particularly liked the note on which the film ended.  Not everything was wrapped up into a neat little package.

 Shot in Greece and France, Eden Is West put a smile on face and held my attention for the full two hours.  I hope it’ll do the same for you.