At the head is Omar, played by a formidable Amir El-Masry with a hazy temperament who wears the kind of melancholy Sharrock seeks on his sleeve like a second skin. A gifted musician back in Syria virtuoso with the strings of a oud, Omar spends his days in an intermediate state, as do the rest of the refugees stationed at the bizarre seaside outpost. Although he is unable to play it due to a combination of fear and a mysterious wound in his hand, the young man conscientiously wears his grandfather’s oud as an extension of his body. With his family scattered in different places – his parents are in Istanbul and his brother, always back in Syria to be part of the resistance – Omar often gazes into empty space with a tinge of nostalgia and hangs out with his companions equally without instead, when he’s not visiting the only phone booth in town to call his family. Throughout “Limbo”, Sharrock disperses Omar’s moving conversations with his mother like the cadences of a musical arrangement. One day, we hear him obtaining the recipe for his favorite native dish with spices like sumac, which is almost impossible to obtain on the island. And on the other hand, mutual worries about their family’s future take precedence over long-distance chat.
Through various gently observant scenes, Sharrock constructs a complex portrayal of Omar which both elevates him above his austere situation and integrates him with particular care. In this regard, Andy Drummond’s careful production design and Nick Cooke’s artful cinematography accentuate the sterility of Omar’s surroundings, such as the barely furnished temporary apartment he shares with his roommate fan of Freddy Mercury Farhad. (a sweet and amiable Vikash Bhai), the barely stocked grocery store. he patronizes, the dark landscape that envelops everything … In unison, these elements serve as constant reminders of the emptiness that advance the severity of Omar’s emotional estrangement.
Sharrock’s biggest feat here is using all of those absurd touches to achieve some sort of sensitive, thoughtful humor – think of something in the vein of ‘The Band’s Visit’, but directed by Yorgos Lanthimos – without making Omar. and his companions the target of the joke. Instead, Sharrock insists the joke is on the people of “Limbo,” oblivious to their own privileges; in particular two teachers of cultural integration, Helga (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Boris (Kenneth Collard), responsible for educating two dozen young men like Omar on Western social etiquette. In one session (which serves as the film’s hilarious opening), they demonstrate sexual limits through a ridiculous storyline set on an imaginary dance floor. In another, they illustrate good ways to query a job over the phone. As the men play the game, sometimes with breathtaking seriousness, you can’t help but hear their inner voices mocking ignorant but well-meaning Helga and Boris.