Cinematic migrant crisis drama set on the high seas

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 19 Feb 2019
  • Styx
Film title: Styx
Director: Wolfgang Fischer
Starring: Susanne Wolff, Gedion Oduor Wekesa

There’s nothing new about dramatic tales of tragic solo sailing trips making their way to the big screen – we’ve had two Donald Crowhurst biopics in the past year alone – but Wolfgang Fischer’s Styx takes its protagonist into more complex and provocative waters than most. As she enjoys a long-anticipated expedition to Ascension Island, Rieke (the impressive Susanne Wolff) comes across a stricken ship filled with African migrants en route to Europe, now in desperate need of assistance. Over the radio, a coast guard warns her that the official policy is to not engage, but can paramedic Rieke really do nothing and sail onwards while these people are crying out for help?

Styx is one of the most compelling cinematic attempts to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis because it boils it down to one empathetic woman’s personal experience, placing her in a moral quandary that offers no easy answers. Fischer’s storytelling is nimble and precise, while Benedict Neuenfels’ cinematography gives us a crucial sense of space, particularly through the arresting aerial photography that emphasises just how alone these people really are.

Mon 25 Feb, Everyman, 6pm | Tue 26 Feb, CCA, 3.30pm