×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Review: ‘Fishing Without Nets’

Cutter Hodierne makes an accomplished feature debut with this very well-crafted, empathetic hijacking drama.

With:

Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abdulwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim, Eric Godon. (English, Somali, French dialogue)

Those who thought the pirates’ p.o.v. was neglected in “Captain Phillips” and “A Hijacking” may find the insights they were hoping for in “Fishing Without Nets.” This accomplished feature debut for director/co-scenarist Cutter Hodierne (expanding his 2012 Sundance grand jury prize-winning short of the same name) follows an oil tanker’s hijacking and its aftermath through the primary viewpoint of a young Somali who’s reluctantly taken part. Very well crafted, empathetic drama should ride the coattails of its similarly themed predecessors to solid sales and decent niche biz in numerous territories.

Upstanding, pious Abdi (Abdikani Muktar) comes from generations of fishermen. But now the nearby waters are polluted, and fish are scarce; years of war and famine have done the rest. Desperate to provide a better life for his beloved wife and son, he has them smuggled out of the country, but there’s no money left for him to follow. Ergo, he eventually becomes susceptible to an acquaintance’s siren song of untold riches if he joins a hijacking party. (He’s solicited because while fishing, he’s grown familiar with the nearest shipping lanes for international vessels.) Despite his strong distaste for the idea of signing on with killers and thieves — what would his late father have thought? — he caves at last.

The heavily armed pirates soon come across a rusty old commercial tanker that’s worth nothing much itself, and currently bears no cargo. So its only “valuables” are the crew, who are taken hostage while the lead hijackers negotiate long-distance with their European employers. Not wanting to keep all the presumably highest-price-tagged white captives in one place, the captain (Eric Godon) is left on ship while younger Victor (Reda Kateb) is dragged to a shanty village, where Abdi becomes his minder — and the only person who seems to think of the Frenchman as a fellow human being. But as things drag on and no ransom delivery seems to be on the immediate horizon, their frail friendship is imperiled and worse by hotheaded, often hopped-up Blackie (Abdi Siad), who’d as soon kill both as have his patience tried further.

It’s a tale that only gets bleaker; even Abdi’s loved ones seem to be in danger, since when he sneaks a call to them on a stolen satellite phone, he’s instead extorted for more money via vague threats to their welfare. There’s no attempt to follow the negotiation process, which dominated “Captain Phillips” and “A Hijacking,” but here is kept offscreen. Instead the focus is strictly on the tense ground-level situation, exacerbated by language barriers and most of the pirates’ unhelpful naivete about how things can and should go.

Muktar (who also starred in the short) and Kateb (“A Prophet,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) make vividly sympathetic impressions without much dialogue, while Siad is properly alarming as one very loose cannon. All tech and design aspects here are first-rate, notably Patrick Taylor and Kevin Hilliard’s ominous score (despite an occasional excess of percussive bombast), and cinematography by Alex Disenhof (“The We and I”) that makes excellent use of the widescreen format, both on land (the pic was shot in Kenya) and at sea.

Sundance Film Review: 'Fishing Without Nets'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 17, 2014. Running time: 110 MIN.

Production:

(U.S.-Somalia-Kenya) A Vice Films production. Produced by Raphael Swann, John Hibey, Cutter Hodierne, Brian Glazen, Ben Freedman, Stephanie Pinola, Victor Shapiro. Executive producers, Eddy Moretti, Shane Smith, Rupert Wyatt, Joe LoConti. Co-producers, Ginger Wilson, Guy Wilson.

Crew:

Directed by Cutter Hodierne. Screenplay, Hodierne, John Hibey, David Burkman. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Alex Disenhof; editors, Hodierne, Dominic LaPierriere; music, Patrick Taylor, Kevin Hilliard; production designer, Naia Barrenechea; sound, Lee Smith, Giles Khan; sound designer, Tom Myers; supervising sound editor, Christopher Barnett; re-recording mixers, Myers, Barnett; assistant directors, Toby Hosking, Angie Musira.

With:

Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abdulwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim, Eric Godon. (English, Somali, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Shailene Woodley probation Dakota Pipeline protest

    Cannes: Infotainment China Media Snaps Up "Misanthrope"

    Chinese sales and distribution company Infotainment China Media has bought the China rights to “Misanthrope,” the new serial killer thriller starring Shailene Woodley, from FilmNation Entertainment at Cannes. Woodley (“Big Little Lies”, the “Divergent” franchise”) will play a cop recruited by the FBI to hunt down a murderer. Damian Szifron (“Wild Tales”) and Jonathan Wakeham [...]

  • Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s

    Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s ‘Encounter With Lux Prima’ Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Karen O & Danger Mouse’s “Lux Prima” is one of the year’s best albums so far — but it’s more than an album. “An Encounter with Lux Prima – The Art of Collaboration,” a short documentary chronicling the 18-month development of their multisensory art installation “An Encounter With Lux Prima” premieres today exclusively on Variety. [...]

  • Willem Dafoe Talks 'The Lighthouse' and

    Willem Dafoe on His New Films 'The Lighthouse' and 'Tommaso,' Robert Pattinson as Batman

    Willem Dafoe has spent the last two awards seasons on the campaign trail. The actor earned back-to-back Oscar nominations for his work in 2017’s “The Florida Project” and for last year’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” And if the critical reaction to “The Lighthouse” is any indication, he’ll be back on it soon. “The Lighthouse” is director [...]

  • Official First Look at the Women

    'Terminator: Dark Fate': Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger Return in First Trailer

    The Resistance’s war against Skynet rages on with the sixth installment of the “Terminator” series, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” The first trailer for the latest movie dropped on Thursday. The clip opens with two franchise newcomers, Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes, as they’re being pursued by a Terminator (Gabriel Luna), one that seems to have some [...]

  • Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps

    Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps ‘Wake Up Punk’ Feature Doc (EXCLUSIVE)

    Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corré has voiced his opposition to a Sex Pistols feature film in the works, and is about to launch his own project, “Wake Up Punk.” The feature documentary will follow events after his decision to burn punk memorabilia worth millions of pounds. John Lydon has already tweeted that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content