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This drama by the chameleonic Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, 24-Hour Party People) follows a young Afghan refugee and his older cousin as they make the treacherous overland journey through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Italy, and France en route to London. It's a compendium of trendy filmmaking techniques—amateur actors, skeletal script, digital video, available light—and, a few devastating moments aside, rarely transcends the dull squalor of its subject. Winterbottom and screenwriter Tony Grisoni were clearly motivated by conscience, but I can't help thinking that Stephen Frears's Dirty Pretty Things, a much more conventional and contrived movie about third-world refugees, had a greater social impact than this murky art-house item. In English and subtitled Farsi and Pashtu. 90 min.

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