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FILM REVIEW; Ghosts (15).

Byline: PHILIP KEY

ANY film director who uses a non-professional cast could be heading for trouble. But with Nick Broomfield, the experiment comes off beautifully in Ghosts (Cert 15).

It gives his film, based on the Morecambe Bay tragedy a brooding sense of reality, one helped by the use of handheld cameras and real locations.

Most of the dialogue is in Chinese (with subtitles) and one gets a sense of real people being filmed in real situations.

It is an unsettling story of young Chinese people trying to make money by being smuggled into England under the expectation of a land where everything is possible. The truth, we see, is brutal.

They have to borrow money to pay the smugglers and then spend six months travelling holed up in a container or nailed down in coffin-like boxes.

Once in Britain they are herded by fellow Chinese into cramped living quarters, provided with false papers and made to work in grim factories with chicken products. They hardly earn enough to pay their pounds 25 a week rent.

Ai Qin Lin playing an illegal, also named Ai Qin, is a marvel. An untrained actress who was an illegal herself, she brings dignity to her role and genuine emotion as she realises she has been conned into a dreadful lifestyle.

The factory scenes with all sorts of animal gunge being squeezed into plastic tubs could put you off supermarket food for life.

Some of the nastier scenes occur at Morecambe Bay, where other cocklers looking more like thugs than workers attack the Chinese and steal or destroy their cockle haul.

In another poignant scene, Ai Qin goes shopping in a supermarket where she realises she cannot afford the spring onions she had helped pick.

Ghosts is not an easy film to watch, but one that personalises what remains, for most of us, only as a set of appalling statistics.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 22, 2007
Words:316
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