Film Review: The Flood overcomes its melodramatic narrative thanks to topical sensitivity

The opening scrawl of The Flood states that at least 18,000 people who have been displaced by persecution, conflict and violence in their own habitats around the world have died in the last 5 years alone in their bid to reach Europe.  It’s a shocking statistic regarding those trying to enter another country, but in the film stating this and then purporting that it’s based “on many true stories”, it allows director Anthony Woodley (whose career has predominantly been as a miscellaneous crew member on such productions as Skyfall, Spectre, and the upcoming Black Widow) and writer Helen Kingston (The Carrier) to have a little play with the authenticity of the story presented.

Adopting a similar stern stance to that of her Games of Thrones character, Lena Headey leads the film as Wendy, an immigration officer who, at work, is the picture of a perfect employee – hitting quotas as she balances her empathy hearing out each asylum seeker – a stark contrast to her home life where she downs vodka as she begs her ex-husband over the phone to let her read their daughter a bed-time story.

Due to her rather swift dealings with asylum applications, Wendy has been assigned the case of Eritrean refugee Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah), who’s recently been arrested on the suspicion that he may be a terrorist.  As he is questioned by an increasingly frustrated Wendy, Haile’s story is revealed to us through a series of flashbacks, detailing his desire to start anew in the UK after escaping the war-torn mentality of his country.

Whilst the trope of the hardened Wendy eventually being won over by Haile’s plight is adhered to, and the film is never without a little contrivance throughout, it’s worth noting that The Flood manages to still prove a moving feature about the struggles one can overcome in their bid for a better future.  Thanks to director Woodley and writer Kingston – who worked with real-life refugees and whistleblowers to garner a true sense of authenticity throughout – there is a sense of realism laced underneath the narrative melodrama that seems almost necessary for the film to adopt in order to tell its rather harsh story.

With an immensely likeable turn from Jeremiah, and another fine showing from Headey at its core, The Flood overcomes any broad typicalities these true-story dramas oft adhere to.  The sensitivity and sense of urgency present in the film’s topical mentality shines through, allowing The Flood to earn its weight on more than just good intentions.


The Flood is available on VOD and digital platforms across the United States.  An Australian release is still to be announced.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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