★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
Genre: Drama, (clandestine) immigration, road movie
Martín and Leila meet in the worst of circumstances: identifying the body of Leila's brother, who died trying to cross the Gibraltar straight to Spain. The two embark on a pilgrimage-like journey back to Leila's hometown, Hansala, to return her brother to her family and to identify the other victims of the shipwreck. Martín, who originally agreed to the trip in hopes of making money off of funeral expenses, is forced to acknowledge the humanity of the victims in a way he never has before and Leila must reconcile herself with the fact that she funded her brother's fateful journey.
Retorno a Hansala is certainly not for the weak of heart. The film opens with with a first-person documentation of Leila's brother's death, and doesn't stray from the macabre theme. If you're interested in the humanity (not the politics) of the Gibraltar straight, this is a perfect place to start although you should be ready to shed a few tears. However, those who have recently suffered a loss or aren't feeling up to a hard-hitting emotional oeuvre might do best to steer clear.
★★★✩✩ Intermediate - ★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
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Retorno a Hansala is one of the more difficult films recommended on Borderlands. This is because: the Spanish character Martín has a very thick Spanish accent, the other main character Leila has a Moroccan accent that's a little hard to discern, and because some of the film isn't even performed in Spanish, but in Moroccan Arabic. I would highly recommend subtitles for all but the most experienced of language learners.
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