BFI Flare: The Lawyer (2020) A Review

Due to have it’s World Premiere at the Flare Festival this Spring, The Lawyer tells a complicated story of love and grief and it is absolutely beautiful.

Certificate: TBD

Director: Romas Zabarauskas

Screenwriter: Romas Zabarauskas

Starring: Eimutis Kvosciauskas, Dogac Yildiz, Darya Ekamasova

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Not your average love story by any means, ‘The Lawyer’ (Advokatas) tells the story of Corporate Lawyer Marius and Syrian Refugee Ali.  After Marius’ father unexpectantly dies, he is in mourning and starts to spend time with Sex Cam worker Ali.  Grief and Mourning turn to something more and the two men strike up a rocky, romantic relationship. All the while Marius tries to help Ali get into the Refugee resettlement program.

This film doesn’t shy away from hard topics at all.  It deals with Homosexuality, Transgenderism, Economic Status and the refugee crisis (and all that is In the first 44 Minutes) And it deals with them in a very intelligent way, not just in an offhand manner.  All topics are discussed openly and in full, not used as throwaway plot points to appeal to ‘Woke Culture.’  But it’s best work is in the handling of these subjects with a light-hearted attitude and with occasional humour.  This film ould have been uncomfortable and heavy due to its heavy themes and subjects, instead, I feel like it taught me something about a world I knew very little about, while still managing to tell an engaging and emotional story.

Our two leading men have superb chemistry on screen and Dogac Yildiz is the real star of the show.  His frustrations with the legal system, his distrust of everyone and everything, and his unwavering optimism make for a very interesting and engaging character I only wish we had gotten more information about.  Marius is a great character, but doesn’t have the biggest personality or the most engaging story despite being the title character.  Instead he is a steady, reassuring presence.  A calm voice amid all the chaos going on in Ali’s life, a great balancing force in their relationship.

The film had a way of making you wonder what everyone’s real motives are.  The on the surface the plot is easy to follow, but it is not always clear if things are as they seem, and I loved that.  I have no doubt that everyone’s intentions were innocent, but the mistrust and uncertainty around the refugee and immigration process just meant that it is a feeling that permeates the entire film, to amazing effect.

The romance here is slow burning and there are a few times you think it will never take off at all.  And the narrative here leaves you waiting for an agonizingly long time to see how this avenue of the story will turn out.  Marius is really agonising over what to do about Ali and will stop at nothing to see him safely across the border. While Ali is just trying to maintain as much of his pride throughout this as possible, refusing to be seen as victim.  Meaning these two characters but heads a lot and the outcome of their brief affair is never clear, right up until the closing minutes of the film I won’t give away the ending, but it leaves you guessing right up until the credits roll, meaning the 97 minute runtime just flies by.

A real thought provoking love story, I highly recommend.

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