Crossing Boundaries Through Relationships

by mpett3 on November 18, 2013 - 11:06pm

Philippe Lioret’s film Welcome (2009) is a perfect example of social borders being crossed through different kinds of relationships.  One relationship in this movie is between Simon and Bilal and is probably the most unlikely relationship in this movie.  The social norms that have been created between French citizens and the illegal immigrants do not lead to friendships.  The French usually either completely ignore the immigrants or they are brutally and unnecessarily mean to them.  A great example of this social norm in the film is when Simon and Marion were in the grocery store and the owner of the store was very rude to the immigrants and kicked them out of his store for no reason other than the fact that they were immigrants.  At the beginning of the film, the character Simon followed this social norm and without even knowing any immigrants or the reasons behind them leaving their country, he discriminated against them just like everyone else.  Once he began to get to know Bilal, however, he realized that treating them this way is unfair and unnecessary.  Simon was able to put this prejudice that he felt aside and began to trust and really care for Bilal.  Throughout the film Simon goes completely out of his way to ensure that Bilal is not hurt or in need of anything important.  The film is centered on this relationship, but in my opinion, it is very unlikely that any relationship like this would happen in real life.  It would take some extraordinary conditions to get someone like Simon to change how they view a group of people and to help someone from that group to the extent that he did. 

Another relationship that goes against what sociality deems normal would be the rather complicated relationship between Simon and Marion.  Most couples that are separated and are going to get divorced do not usually act the way that they do toward each other.  Most couples that are divorced do not get along and would rather not see each other.  When I saw the scene where they casually running into each other at the grocery store, I assumed that they were just old friends and would never have thought that they were separated.  I think that one reason this scene was included into the film was not only to show how the French citizens and the immigrants interact, but also to show that Marion and Simon defiantly do not follow the social norms for divorcing couples.  Another thing that was odd about their arrangement to me was that he was staying in the apartment that they lived in together.  Usually it is the woman in the relationship that gets to stay in the home that they lived in and the man is who has to find a new place to live.  Probably the biggest boundary that had been crossed in this relationship was when they had sex in the kitchen.  When two married people choose to be separated they put a lot thought into this and decide that they can’t be together anymore.  This boundary that was crossed was pretty realistic to me and even if it is not a social norm, it is not completely uncommon. 

A third relationship that crosses borders quite literally is the relationship between Bilal and Mina.  Mina immigrated into England with her family and is the reason for Bilal’s whole journey throughout the film.  Although this relationship to our society would be considered a long distance relationship and would be considered very romantic, it goes against the traditions that Mina’s family has.  They set up an arranged marriage for her, yet she continues to talk to Bilal when he calls and continues to hope that he will make it to England even if she knows that she shouldn’t be doing this.  Bilal’s actions go against social norms as well because most guys wouldn’t go through all of this trouble for a girl that is engaged to be married to someone else.  I think that this relationship was well represented because it isn’t completely outlandish for a girl of that age to be in love with someone that her parents do not approve of and for her to want to rebel against a tradition that her parents established that she does not agree with. 

Reference:

Lioret, P.  (Director).  (2009) Welcome.  Available from Film Movement.  

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