FLEE – SUNDANCE 2021 REVIEW

Synopsis: Flee tells the extraordinary true story of Amin, a man on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time.

Approaching the documentary format with raw artistic drive, I was truly enamored by what director Jonas Poher Rasmussen accomplishes with Flee. He thoughtfully implements the freeing techniques of animation to depict Amin’s tumultuous journey for freedom. Each frame presents impeccable detail and creative form shifts, oftentimes dancing between subconscious memory and reality to recall events scaling levels of accuracy (Amin’s shadowy imagination of events unknown to him deliver an uneasy dread).

The vivid depictions allow the story’s emotionality to reach affecting heights within the timely subject matter. Rasmussen’s well-textured style choices morph Amin’s personal journey into a universal meditation on refugee’s disenfranchised treatment across the globe (I love the decision to juxtapose Amin’s journey with rosy sitcom programs playing out in the peripheral).

Documentaries often fixate on factual information to highlight their socio-political narratives. Rasmussen intelligently lets his intimately-drawn confessions speak volumes in their own right, promoting an empathetic understanding of the difficulties facing Amin and his well-meaning peers. As he reflects on being a participant in a worldwide conversation, Amin reveals his deeply-seated resentment to being a footnote for casual onlookers. The raw disclosures ruminate on Amin’s oppressive cultural background and the ambivalent treatment of refugee travelers, as their personal stories are largely reduced into talking head media narratives.

Flee thrives as a distinct reminder of refugee’s singular odysseys to newfound homes. Rasmussen’s assured vision promotes much-needed empathy for its overlooked subjects.Their personal hardships deserve more attentive understanding and care than what our single-minded society would like people to believe. With NEON purchasing the film’s rights, I hope Rasmussen’s unique offering reaches the mainstream airwaves it deserves [A-].

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