Fishing Without Nets (2014) Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Cutter Hodierne, starring Abdikani Mukhtar, Eric Godon, Reda Kateb, Abdi Said, Abdiwali Farrah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Idil Ibrahim, Abu Bakr Mirre, and Abdi Kani.
If you’ve ever wondered what Captain Phillips would have been like, if it were filmed from the pirate’s point of view, you might enjoy Fishing Without Nets. The film tells the story of a naïve man who, in a last ditch attempt to help his family, decides to join up with a group of thieves and murderers. Their plan is to board ships and take anything of value.
Unfortunately, this film didn’t have anything close to the same budget as Captain Phillips and that shows. This film isn’t a block-buster by any stretch of the imagination. I believe its intention was to create an emotional bond with the audience. The story itself is both tragic and exciting; both of which make for a compelling film. Perhaps, that is why I feel a little let down by the final product. It has most of the ingredients for a great film, yet I wouldn’t call it a great film.
Let’s talk about the characters. Abdi (Abdikani Mukhtar), our lead, starts out as relatable, and the audience is naturally sympathetic towards him. Surely, his good nature will prevent him from completely diving into pirate culture, or so we hope. Abdi’s character doesn’t seem to evolve as the film progresses and that was something that really let me down. For large parts of the film, Abdi seems complacent, willing to do as he is told. There doesn’t seem to be any of that internal conflict you’d expect a good man to have when he is forced to do bad things.
This film is Abdi’s story; however, it doesn’t always appear that the movie is aware of this fact. He often comes across as a periphery character, blending perfectly into the background. There was so much more that could have been done with his character, instead, we are left with someone who doesn’t feel genuine.
Besides Adbi, we have a whole group of pirates with similarly tragic pasts, and a group of hostages who were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are, however, the occasional positive moments in the film. For example, Abdi’s interactions with a French hostage are surprisingly enjoyable; in part, due to the obvious language barriers. Their relationship/ friendship shows the briefest glimpse of what I imagine Abdi was like before he became a pirate.
Stunning shots of the vast, peaceful ocean and the sunny open sky are some of the other positives from the film. The cinematography for the film was well done, but besides that there wasn’t much else. The score seemed like it would be better suited to an action film rather than a supposedly dramatic one.
This film was far from perfect, though the real disappointment is due to the lost potential. There’s a feeling that a lot more could have been done to make the characters seem real, to make the story seem more believable.
This was a decent film, far from a great film, but not a bad film either. It was somewhere in the middle. In the end, the film lets itself down by not utilizing their characters properly.
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