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Illegal (2011)

Anne Coesens , Olivier Masset-Depasse  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anne Coesens
  • Directors: Olivier Masset-Depasse
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French, Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004707APW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,636 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


Submitted by Belgium - Best Foreign Language Film --2010 Academy Awards®

A fascinating study of perseverance in the face of subhuman treatment. --Boyd Van Hoeij, Variety

WINNER - SACD Prize, Director's Fortnight --2010 Cannes Film Festival

Product Description

Tania is a former teacher from Russia, living illegally in Belgium with her 14-year-old son, Ivan. One day, they are stopped on the street for a routine check by the police; Tania is arrested and placed in an immigration detention center for women, while Ivan manages to escape. Threatened with imminent deportation and fearful for Ivan's fate, Tania embarks on a harrowing journey, determined to preserve her dignity and find her son.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Movie of Importance July 16, 2011
While Hollywood spends billions turning out trash, low-budget films from the rest of the world address matters of importance. Illegal is such a film, and benefits from sure direction and assured acting. Tania is Russian, living illegally in Belgium, trying to keep below the radar while she struggles to create a better life for her son Ivan. Unfortunately Ivan is, like most children, unable to imagine a world beyond his narrow vision and consequently doesn't understand his mother's insistance on speaking French in order to keep a low profile. His determined use of Russian leads to his mother's arrest and incarceration in a Belgian detention center. Most of the movie is concerned with what happens here - the good and the bad.

This is an unashamed polemic, aimed at ensuring we don't gloss over the human cost of bureaucratic immigration policies. In the end, the wealthy and comfortable citizens of the West complacently ignore the plight of those less fortunate. In the USA the stance is even more hypocritical than normal because American agriculture depends on illigal migrant workers; in Belgium it's merely a question of maintaining EU rules that like all immigration policy basically discriminate on the basis of chance. If you happen to be lucky enough to be born in the West you get a nice life; if you're born elsewhere, hard luck.

But that luck really is hard, and the virtue of this film is that it enables us to see the lengths to which courageous individuals will go in order to try for a better life. Ironically, it's the people with the drive to make the attempt who suffer the consequences - yet these are precisely the courageous and driven types we need to maintain the vigor of our societies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very memorable July 20, 2012
I have always been one of the types who said, "kick out the illegals and we'll all be fine". When I saw this movie, I cried. As one commentor mentions, this movie humanizes the process. Perhaps he is right that those who have drive are the very ones who deserve citizenship. I don't say, as Obama does, "let them all in so they will vote for me." But I have had an opinion change about these poor illegal immigrants who are just looking for something better. I just cried. How very little justice there is in this world. Isn't there enough room in the United States for a few more who will use their talents to build it up? What happened to the Statue of Liberty quote: "...bring me...your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"? Who knows, maybe the next will be an Albert Einstein, for all we know? And that we would turn people back to dictatorships! Who do we think we are? Isn't there some way that this could be done properly? How did my great-grandparents get here? And yours? They just came. Same way we are putting down. And it's not as if many don't have blood on their hands. What did many do to the original inhabitants of this land? Perhaps that whole scenario shows a little bit of hypocrisy. And the poor Lieve (played exquisitely by Christelle Cornil), who works at the detention center, just can't seem to understand why it is so terrible in the horrible Belarus dictatorship and why people would try to come to her country to escape. Is it so terrible back there, after all? Tania answers her "Do you think we're masochists to endure all this hardship for a little freedom?

But when when one of the residents commits suicide, Lieve begins to understand then what these people are enduring in their own countries. Could it be so horrible to cut them a little slack?
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3.0 out of 5 stars relevant July 8, 2012
By .fgd
It is really a fictionalised documentary with little rom for drama or much exploration of themes within it to make it more interesting. Three stars but at least it is not trying to be more than it is. Yet it does hold interest and well acted. For anyone with a particuler interest and empathy for illegals or because they know of people in that situation it would be moving to watch


The ending spoilt the documentary integrity in order to ensure a happy ending.
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I was extremely disappointed with this movie. I usually enjoy Film Movement's releases on DVD, and own quite a few of their features, but this movie has to be the bottom of the barrel for them. Basically, it is about a Belarussian mother and her 13-year-old son living illegally in Belgium. The mother is caught by immigration enforcement agents on the street while bringing her son home from school on his birthday. Her son escapes; she is sent to a detention center to await extradition. She keeps her identity hidden (even assumes that of a fellow illegal immigrant), while stressfully worrying about being reunited with her child. There, she connects with other illegal immigrants.

There are 3 major problems with this movie: 1) I had NO sympathy for the main character; 2) The audience is given her situation with NO background information about her or the mafia man who is harboring her. It simply tells some sort of story about how bad it is to be an immigrant in Belgium; and 3) The immigration problems in Belgium are unknown to me, and I am simply relying at taking the filmmakers' word on EVERYTHING that is put on the screen, especially "true events" that are being fictionalized.

If you are from Europe, and know about the problems with illegal immigration in Belgium, then you'll probably "get" this movie. That aside, there is no character development, and EVERYTHING that happens to the main character is HER FAULT (except the obvious "human rights" violations). One is greatly mistaken if you make an equivalency to this movie and American movies about illegal immigration from Mexico (for that, see "El Norte"). It is supposed to be a film about a mother and son and their separation, and it states so inside the dvd container.
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