Newest Reviews
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Heiress, The
Cold Pursuit
Dogs of War, The
Holy Mountain, The
Under Fire
Jennifer on My Mind
People on Sunday
Lethal Weapon 4
Downhill Racer
Escape Room
Across the Pacific
Madeline's Madeline
You're Gonna Miss Me
Iron Sky: The Coming Race
Mortal Engines
Union City
Little Stranger, The
Watermelon Man
Wandering Earth, The
Good Fairy, The
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
Monster in the Closet
Sand, The
My Brilliant Career
Knife for the Ladies, A
Man in the Attic
No Kidding
Newest Articles
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
How 1970s Can You Get? Cliff Richard in Take Me High vs Never Too Young to Rock
A Perfect Engine, An Eating Machine: The Jaws Series
  World Unseen, The You've got to hide your love awayBuy this film here.
Year: 2007
Director: Shamim Sarif
Stars: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Parvin Dabas, Nananda Sen, David Dennis, Grethe Fox
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Set in South Africa during the 1950s when apartheid first took hold, The World Unseen sees acclaimed writer Shamim Sarif adapt her award-winning debut novel for the big screen. Free-spirited Amina (Sheetal Sheth) causes gossip amongst the Indian community by wearing men’s clothes and running a café with Jacob (David Dennis), her African business partner. When she meets Miriam (model-turned-actress Lisa Ray), a young “traditional” housewife and mother, their unexpected attraction pushes Miriam to question the rules that bind her. Amina shelters Miriam’s sister-in-law from the police, while Miriam’s own acts of kindness and bravery, such as helping an injured black youth, see her confidence grow. But amidst the oppressive atmosphere of apartheid, what chance is there for a forbidden love to survive?

Conceived, produced and financed entirely by women, The World Unseen is clearly an impassioned project for all involved. It boldly combines an old fashioned, Fifties-style “women against all odds” picture with social issues and a lesbian romance. Sarif draws interesting and quite provocative parallels between Indian bourgeois conservative values and the monstrousness of apartheid. Omar (Parvin Dabas) is unfaithful and abusive to Miriam, but his hypocrisy goes beyond their marriage. He considers himself a cut above those blacks who toil in his shop, an attitude echoed by several Indian characters throughout the film.

Afro-Asian prejudice is an important subject, rarely tackled in cinema. While not centralized here, it bravely isn’t ignored. Amina herself is crucial. Her grandmother was raped by an African, then beaten and abandoned by her Indian family. Similarities between such inequalities and cruelties to women and the apartheid regime are impossible to ignore. Sarif evokes this shameful period on a more intimate scale than say, Cry Freedom (1987), with petty racism and police brutality. Especially touching is Jacob’s doomed, almost-romance with a white bank teller (Grethe Fox), greatly enhanced by Dennis’ quietly dignified performance.

A well paced film overall, Sarif’s direction occasionally falls listless and fails to propel scenes with enough verve. Excellent performances from Sheetal Sheth and Lisa Ray more than compensate. Ray was a striking presence in Deepa Mehta’s Water (2006), but delivers a weightier, outstanding performance as Miriam; conflicted, compassionate and with brittle resilience. Sheth is a little too glam to make a fully convincing tomboy, but ably shoulders the drama. Her charisma makes Amina a vivacious and admirably principled heroine. Though both leads are undeniably beautiful, the film does not pander to male fantasies and portrays their physical relationship with sensitivity, emphasising the emotional fulfilment brought by intimacy. The nature of its setting means any conclusion is going to seem unsatisfying. It is the Fifties, apartheid isn’t going away anytime soon. Mandela’s imprisonment, Biko’s murder and mass riots all loom on the horizon. However, the personal story concludes satisfactorily on a note of fragile optimism. This is a hymn to feminine virtues: resilience, thoughtfulness and quiet resolve.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1506 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Rachel Franke
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White


Last Updated: