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Between Two Worlds -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
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Venice Film Festival -- Competition

VENICE -- Striking images and the suggestion that life is a series of random events that might be repeated make "Between Two Worlds" intriguing.

With no narrative arc, Vimukthi Jayasundara's tale of life in Sri Lanka follows a young man who falls from the sky into the sea, clambers onto the shore and survives dangerous encounters in a city filled with rioting people and then in the countryside where unseen authorities shoot on sight.

Cinematographer Channa Deshapriya and production designer Lal Harendranath contribute to remarkably enigmatic sequences that might prove winning at festivals and could reach sympathetic international audiences as a cry for help for the young people of strife-torn Sri Lanka.

The urban scenes are realistic and terrifying: Groups of men with clubs descend on anyone found alone, gunfire and explosions are constant, and streets are strewn with the wreckage from mayhem.

People that the young man encounters stay with him for a while but then disappear without explanation and are not heard from again. In the junglelike countryside, he sees incidents that he then learns happened a long time ago and commits acts of violence that prove never to have happened.

He finds a woman who apparently is his sister-in-law, and when she notices he has a damaged eye, she treats it with milk from her breast though she hasn't given birth. A little boy tends to a wounded bird but then climbs a tree and drops it into a large knothole in the trunk.

When a village's well is found to be poisoned, all the young men who have been hiding from the guns of the authorities emerge from the forest to bale the water away. The young man joins in, and their movements become a dance and a chant followed by a celebration that ends when armed men on horseback swoop down on them.

What all of it adds up to is left to the viewer, but there's no question that while some bits are simply puzzling, there are many arresting episodes and the film echoes as a plaintive call for attention to the ongoing plight of the young people of Sri Lanka.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Production: Les Films Hatari, Unlimited, Arte France Cinema, Film Council Prods. Sri Lanka
Director-writer: Vimukthi Jayasundara
Producers: Michel Klein, Philippe Avril, Michel Reilhac, Chandana Aluthge, Anura Silva
Director of photography: Channa Deshapriya
Production designer: Lal Harendranath
Music: Lackshman Joseph De Saram
Costume designer: Kanchana Thalpawila
Editor: Gisele Rapp-Meichler
Sales agent: Artscope
No rating, 85 minutes