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Flee (2021)

This is a true story. This is the story of Amin Nawabi (younger versions voiced by Daniel Karimyar and Fardin Mijdzadeh), a homosexual Afghan refugee, and his journey toward freedom. His life has been incredibly challenging, but he’s remained determined to get his life on track. Amin sits down for an interview with his friend Jonas Rohan Rasmussen and tells all in Flee, for the first time in his life.

There are moments of inexplicable beauty throughout Flee that remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” The beauty in the film’s simplicity emanates from the screen, and there’s something calming about these scenes. Amin’s story is harrowing, and it almost seems backward that Flee would include images that may be considered attractive, but they exist nonetheless. I feel that, even though they may initially feel out of place, visuals of this nature are essential to Flee, as they create a level of balance. The often heavy content may drag viewers down, but the ability of the art department to create a fluid blend of beauty and darkness throughout Amin’s story is a testament to their talent.

I’m greatly impressed by how simplistic every aspect of Flee is–from the animation, to the dialogue, to the voice talents, Flee dabbles in the simplistic. Amin, specifically, is very even keeled and down to earth. His voice is very calming, and as he tells his story of violence and destruction viewers are able to stay emotionally reserved, rather than falling head over heels into a pit of dark emotions. You’re not going to get over-the-top animation that compares to the likes of Disney or Pixar, but the animation is certainly unique. While the animation present in Flee isn’t quite as eye popping as you may see in other popular animated films, the attention to detail is truly majestic. The lights on a child’s shoes glow both on and off screen, and the shoes in question (which play a significant role in one scene) look real. Those shoes, at the very least, remind you of the cool shoes you had as a child, but on a greater scale are capable of altering the tone of Flee, and that’s a tall task for such a seemingly tiny detail.

The dialogue has to feel real–because Flee is a true story–but it also has to reach viewers. Like the juxtaposition/balance present through the emotional aspect of the film, there has to be a balance throughout the dialogue as well. The words often feel real and unscripted, and I’m sure that to a degree they are as Amin relives his past, but he has a way of reaching his viewers as he has a somewhat theatrical way of explaining things. Flee feels very Hollywood, as he has a clear and passionate way of bringing his story to life–and he does all of this with great vigor.

There’s no doubt that Flee is full of heavy content, but Amin and the other voices present throughout create an interesting sense of levity. While the film focuses on Amin’s story toward freedom, the theme of this docudrama is balance, and every aspect of the film finds that–ultimately leading to its success. Flee has tough competition this year at the Oscars for Animated Feature Film, and even if I don’t necessarily agree that it should, I believe that the award for Animated Feature Film will ultimately end up in the hands of Flee’s filmmakers.

Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.

Written by Jonas Poher Rasmussen & Amin Nawabi.

Starring Amin Nawabi, Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Daniel Karimyar, Fardin Mijdzadeh, Milad Eskandari, Belal Faiz, Elaha Faiz, etc.




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