Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, 2021, Denmark/France/Norway/Sweden/Netherlands/United Kingdom/United States/Finland/Italy/Spain/Estonia/Slovenia)

Flee is an animated documentary by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. The film has received widespread acclaim, notably being nominated for three categories at the Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature, Best International Feature, and Best Documentary Feature. This is quite a feat, and a testament to Flee's multifaceted strengths. Like earlier films Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir, the film fuses animation with documentary to relay a story. In this case, it is done for several reasons. Firstly, the director has a desire to keep his friend's identity anonymous - the character of Amin is a stand-in for his friend. 

Rasmussen also notably incorporates a good amount of archival live-action footage into the film, as all of the events of the film took place in the era of widespread news coverage. The film traces Amin's childhood in Afghanistan, the takeover by the Taliban, and his family fleeing to disintegrating post-Soviet Russia. The family's attempts to make it to Western Europe are relayed throughout the film, often quite harrowing. This is contrasted with Amin's life in the present day. Amin, who is gay, is having relationship problems. This contrast between past and present is perhaps the weakest link in the film, but it is a minor point.

While the animation does service to the film's most dramatic moments, it works the best when illustrating small details of Amin's life. One such example is a childhood fascination with Jean-Claude Van Damme, exemplified by his gazing at the actor's poster on his wall. Flee has the character of an excellent graphic novel, and we were surprised to learn that the film was not based on a graphic novel. Unsurprisingly, Rasmussen has been tapped by talent agencies to working on additional projects, including adaptations of graphic novels. We are interested to see what this director does next.



Popular Posts