Illegal immigrant Billa (Nitin Parasher) scrapes a living by driving a taxi around the seedy streets of Soho. When he picks up drug-addicted prostitute Sarah (Rachel Loughran), who has just witnessed a murder at the hands of her pimp, he embarks on a dark journey of desperation and violence.
This crime drama is the debut film of writer-director Harprit Dhanoa, and is an inescapably amateurish affair. While kerb-crawling along similar streets to Taxi Driver, Drive, and Lynne Ramsay’s recent You Were Never Really Here, Immigrant offers very little originality. It dives into the grim and grimy world of drugs and prostitution yet has nothing new to say about it, and squanders the opportunity to interrogate the issues facing refugees and immigrants in a meaningful way.
The film struggles to escape from its almost non-existent production values, including cinematography that looks like it was shot on a 90s webcam, unconvincing fight scenes, and bizarrely awful dubbing for the entirety of the dialogue.
Billa is a potentially interesting protagonist, and one that is under-represented in UK film, but he’s also under-developed here, and surrounded by stock characters that include pantomime gangsters and woeful portrayals of women, who serve only as victims of mental, physical and sexual abuse.
Creating any film takes a commendable degree of dedication and effort on the part of the filmmakers, especially with no money to play with. Yet, plenty of great films made on shoestring budgets with skeleton crews have displayed originality, artistry and engaging storytelling, and we live in an era in which one can shoot a film on a phone and make it look half-decent. Unfortunately, Immigrant is no such example.
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