Many highlights in a vivid portrait of Sydney’s inner west

Here in the west ★★★★½

Nancy (Genevieve Lemon) stands in front of her bedroom mirror, smoking, choosing a lipstick and hair accessory, and preparing to go out. But when a car pulls up and a young girl hurriedly drops her at her front door, she has to change her plans. Nancy forgot to cancel her childcare. She’s still on her way, but now she has young Amirah (Mia-Lore Bayeh) in tow. Carrying her pet spider in a jar, Amirah, a Lebanese migrant who speaks no English, is a wary observer who keeps her thoughts to herself, although they are revealed to viewers via subtitles.

Written by Nisrine Amine and directed by Lucy Gaffy, We the spiders is the first of the eight loosely connected stories that make up Here in the westa carefully curated portmanteau film skillfully written by eight writers (Amine, Arka Das, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Dee Dogan, Vonne Patiag and Tien Tran) and fluently directed by Gaffy, Ana Kokkinos, Leah Purcell , Fadia Abboud and Julie Kalceff.

Leah Vandenberg in The Eternal Dance, one of the standout stories in the portmanteau production Here Out West.

Leah Vandenberg in The Eternal Dance, one of the standout stories in the portmanteau production Here Out West.Recognition:John Platt

Nancy’s destination, the local hospital in Sydney’s inner west where her daughter has just given birth, becomes a key place where many of her racially diverse characters cross paths. And an impulsive action by the new grandmother becomes a springboard for subsequent events.

Nothing goes smoothly for the characters in Here in the west. All plans get messed up and they have to find ways to adjust. The beautifully assembled telemovie blossoms into a living mosaic of stories about people under pressure and seamlessly brings together a broad cross-section of migrant communities. Moreover, it does so without waving a smug flag for its display of diversity. This shows it astutely but not overtly, it is the melting pot that is Sydney’s west.

There are parents who have been separated from their children or argue with them. There are children who struggle with or rebel against expectations. There are migrants who strive to honor the traditions of their home countries while struggling to adjust to the realities of a recently adopted country: trying to find work, meeting employer demands, keeping their businesses afloat to cope with health problems.

Arka Das, Rahel Romahn and Thuso Lekwape in Here Out West, a beautifully put together telemovie set in Sydney's migrant communities.

Arka Das, Rahel Romahn and Thuso Lekwape in Here Out West, a beautifully put together telemovie set in Sydney’s migrant communities. Recognition:ABC

All sorts of compromises are seen as necessary to make ends meet. There is stress and tension everywhere, and in such an environment small gestures of kindness take on great importance. Events unfold in unpredictable ways and nothing is overdone. The drama is gripping without ever descending into sentimentality.

Two of the standout stories – and there are no duds – are The Eternal Dance and The musician. The first, written by Bhattacharya and directed by Kokkinos, sees Ashmita (Leah Vandenberg) rushing to visit her father in the hospital while her mother sits nervously at his bedside. She storms in worried, carrying his favorite candy, and promptly snaps at a curt, overworked nurse (Anita Hegh).

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/tv-and-radio/here-out-west-is-a-vibrant-portrait-of-sydney-s-immigrant-communities-20220805-p5b7ng.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Many highlights in a vivid portrait of Sydney’s inner west

Jaclyn Diaz

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