The Rescue ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
The Rescue chronicles the dramatic 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Screenings at Chiswick Cinema Friday 12 & Monday 15 November 2021
When you watch a documentary which follows a story you thought you knew from news, and still find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat, listening to every word, gripped by the action, astonished by the act of courage of those real people and the true humanitarian spirit that bursts from every frame and eventually you end up being moved by the same outcome you had known all along, then that film is definitely doing something right.
Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin had already kept us breathless in the 2019 Oscar winner “Free Solo”, a documentary about a man climbing the steep vertical rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without any gear or safety ropes… (I’m getting sweaty hands just thinking back about it).
This time they take their story directly from the news from 2018 and cleverly use news footage within the film to advance the story, avoiding any commentary: the astonishing rescue mission to save 12 young boys and their football coach, trapped for two weeks inside some deep and labyrinthine caves somewhere in Northern Thailand. It’s a race against time as the caves get more and more flooded by the constant torrential rains and the air supply run shorter and shorter.
In a caption at the end we are told that 5,000 people took part in this incredible rescue operation, hundreds from around the world also contributed and there is certainly an ‘’international’’ feel to this documentary – the mixture of subtitled foreign languages and English is a testimony to that too.
But aside from the gripping true story itself, what’s also striking about ‘’The Rescue” is its clear and simple storytelling: I’m obviously using the word ‘’simple’’ as a compliment here, as the audience is never lost about any of the detail of the story, characters, the geography of the place or the timescale of the events. It may not look like it’s breaking any moulds in terms of film-making on the surface, but clearly a lot of work has gone in behind the scenes to craft it all and make sure you focus on the story and that alone, without any heavy-handed expositions or sentimentality attached to it.
I loved how the maps and graphics organically grew from the footage or how the reconstructions were seamlessly integrated with the real footage, restated with the actual protagonists (so beautifully done that it was impossible to tell them apart).
In the end this is an uplifting story about selfless heroes, kindness and survival.
Probably not one for the claustrophobics, but otherwise highly recommended.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Book tickets to watch this at Chiswick Cinema here: chiswickcinema.co.uk
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