"Last Resort" is a humane and surprisingly comic feature from the acclaimed Eastern European documentary maker Paul Pawlikowski. It opens with Tanya (Dina Korzun) and her young son Artiom (Artiom Strelnikov) arriving in the U.K. from Russia. Expecting to be met by her fiancé Mark, but finding no one waiting for her, Tanya applies for political asylum and becomes a "refugee by accident." She is taken to a holding area for refugees, where she is told that she must wait with her son for over a year while her application is processed. The holding area is situated in the grim town of Stonehaven, home to an amusement arcade, a bingo hall and precious little else. Distressed and without any money, Tanya searches for employment, but is unable to find any because she doesn't have a work permit. When she is asked to pose as a model for an Internet porn site she is at first repelled, but soon finds she has few other options available. She finds hope in the form of Alfie ("A Room For Romeo Brass'" Paddy Considine), the charismatic manager of the arcade, who may well have a plan to save her and her son.
"Last Resort" was filmed in the British seaside town of Margate and retains a documentary feel throughout, due to Pawlikowski's use of real locations and natural lighting. The film was also shot without much of an original script and was therefore heavily improvised by the main actors. This organic style of filmmaking has resulted in one of the year's most moving features. The director has an eye for the ironies inherent in Tanya's predicament (she is imprisoned in a town dominated by a funfair) and uses his own unique style of shooting to considerable effect. The bond between Tanya and her son is thoroughly realistic, as is her increasingly tender relationship with Alfie.
Starring Dina Korzun, Artiom Strelnikov and Paddy Considine. Directed by Paul Pawlikowski. Written by Paul Pawlikowski and Rowan Joffe. Produced by Ruth Caleb. A Shooting Gallery release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 75 min.