‘Flee’ Movie Review: An Absolutely Awe-Inspiring Piece of Must-See Cinema [Animation Is Film Festival 2021]

Flee is a masterwork of human storytelling. A movie will come along every now and then that reminds us why we love cinema. It has the potential to make you laugh, cry, and sit at the edge of your seat. Flee makes you feel all of those emotions and more. It’s uniquely and unapologetically authentic in how it approaches an important LGBTQ narrative about the true meaning of home.

‘Flee’ tells a pivotal story

Flee is an animated documentary, which places it in a specific niche. Amin has finally approached a time in his life where he feels comfortable enough to tell his story. He’s on the verge of marrying the love of his life, which compelled him to fully open up about his journeys to his friend that have led him to where he is today. 

Amin’s currently 36 years old and a successful academic in his career. He arrived in Denmark as a gay, unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan. Amin’s story explores his intersectionality and how it has impacted his past, present, and how it will impact his future.

Non-linear storytelling emphasizes the past, the present, and hopes for the future

Flee begins in the present as Amin prepares to tell his story. The rest of the movie is told in a non-linear fashion. It jumps back and forth, which provides a stark contrast between the past and the present. Flee shows how far Amin has come, but also how the scars of his past have affected his relationships, friendships, and his state of mind over the years.

Flee is a carefully-constructed documentary, but it avoids talking heads. The animated format allows the story to come to life visually for the audience. Each location he flees to includes new roadblocks and dangers. However, the themes of family, survival, home, and identity are at the forefront and are constantly intertwined.

However, it’s more than a narrative. Flee is an examination of the light and dark sides of humanity. Human kindness is rare but is extraordinary when it comes along. It shapes Amin’s journey just as much as the darkness, but it’s the light that Amin holds close to his heart.

‘Flee’ is the best film of the year

Many LGBTQ film narratives can, unfortunately, turn into trauma porn. Flee tells a tragic reality for many LGBTQ folks, but without dipping into exploitation. Flee is just as much a celebration of identity and love. It’s so dynamically told, it brings on a rush of emotion.

The animation is gorgeous. Color and shape are used to play with the idea of memory. It’s occasionally playful, as the handsome men in media wink at Amin. This is a subtle, yet spot-on visual trick that successfully communicates how it feels to be a gay youth figuring things out. Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen has created a stellar flow that allows the animation and the story to elevate one another. 

Flee is monumentally moving and triumphantly genuine. It’s so honestly human in how it tells Amin’s story. It will make you cry tears of sadness and joy over the course of its 90-minute runtime. Flee is the best, most powerful film of the year.

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