User Reviews (10)

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  • Let me say right off that this is a wonderful movie and will hear no criticism of it. It is a movie about hope and desperation; about exploitation and trust; about adversity bringing out the best in some, but the worst in others; and about love springing up in the most unlikely of situations.

    Sharkey (Bob Hoskins) is a fraud, a con-man, a man prepared to exploit children rendered desperate by the diabolical realities of war. Vlado (Sergiusz Zymelka) is one such child, a street kid living rough, forced to survive on his wits and surrounded by death, despair and the horrors of war to such an extent that he is hardened by it all and his survival instincts have totally taken over. When Vlado, desperate to escape to a normal life, willingly becomes Sharkey's meal-ticket, his youthful exuberance, joy of life and practical common sense start to break down stone-clad casing surrounding the man's heart. As adversity pulls them closer together, a growing bond between this unlikely pair starts to strengthen. But will this bond eventually break both of their hearts, or will it prove to be their ultimate salvation? Bob Hoskins was terrific in an unaccustomed role. But Sergiusz Zymelka was a revelation. His performance was nothing short of sensational for one so young. His performance was worthy of an Oscar nomination. One has to wonder why a young actor with this much talent is playing small parts on television in his native Poland, when casting agents from around the world ought to be knocking his door down! Ten out of ten for the movie. The rating for Sergiusz Zymelka is right off the scale. Top ten all-time child actor performance for me.
  • Where Eskimos Live caught my heart. It made me laugh and cry. It is a stunning accomplishment, showing the cruelties of war bluntly and without glossing over the facts of inhumanity and destruction. It is a simple but very convincing movie, centering around two very different characters and how they learn to trust and love each other in the sinister world of death, child trade and deceit.

    Sharkey (Bob Hoskins) is an obscure man who travels around war-torn Bosnia in 1995. He claims to be a caseworker for UNICEF, a camouflage he makes use of to get orphaned boys for a Russian mafia syndicate in Poland. He is in his fifties, apparently rough and callous; a loner always chasing an opportunity to make as much money as possible. Vlado (Sergiusz Zymelka) is a nine-year-old boy, orphaned by the war and now a member of a gang of pre-teen hoodlums who fool the military and steal food whenever they get a chance.

    After Sharkey's unlucky encounter with a colonel, who now claims him responsible for the death of his daughter and is hard on his heels, he meets Vlado's gang. Eventually, the young boy follows him, as Sharkey pretends coming from Norway – that is where Eskimos live, and Vlado always wanted to go there. So the two of them walk off, heading for the border. Of course their journey is not as smoothly as Sharkey would have preferred it to be; they have to survive various dangerous adventures, in the course of which they gradually grow quite close. Having dealt with the colonel and managed to leave Bosnia, Sharkey and Vlado arrive in Poland. Now they have to face the Russians, which means new challenges. Sharkey's cunning deceit almost proves too daring, but again they manage to survive.

    The movie is set and shot entirely on locations in Bosnia and Poland. The setting – both time and place – is the story's backbone. Thus it is a movie dealing with two characters and how they manage to survive amidst death and havoc in a war-torn country. The cruelties of war are shown in appalling images, visualized in all their crushing brutality and atrocity. Sharky and Vlado are surrounded by these images, by death and despair. They encounter deserters who are shot to death at a checkpoint on the street; they have to run for their lives when shells explode in their vicinity; they find piles of dead corpses, shot to death and terribly deformed. They are surrounded by these images and emotionally affected in a subtle but pervasive way, which leads to the establishment of an emotional bond between them that would have never attained its honesty and depth if it had not been for the hostile environment that makes them rely on each other.

    The acting performances of the two protagonists are outstanding. Sergiusz Zymelka in particular delivers so genuine scenes that I was moved to tears occasionally. His handsome appearance, his vivid and bright eyes, his cleverness and his disarming charm make him shine. The scene when Sharky attempts to make a photograph of the boy for a new passport features an hilarious Vlado who makes faces and displays his childish gaiety. Apart from that I deeply appreciate his knowledge of English, which is remarkably well-developed for a boy his age.

    Where Eskimos Live is a road movie; it lives by individual sequences that define its quality. The scene after the shooting of the two deserters is just awesome, so natural and authentic that I could almost feel the emotional scars inflicted in Sharky and Vlado. They lie down in the grass and scream – they have just escaped death, and it is moving how Vlado makes Sharkey release his pent-up emotions.

    This movie is never stereotypical or corny. It tells the story of one man who was looking for money but rather found something that was worth much more – a boy who pins all his hopes on him, a boy who makes him a better person, and, above all, a boy who loves him. The movie won various awards, giving ample evidence for its essential quality. It is brutal, sometimes vulgar and thus hard to digest for young children, but flawless and never awkward. Honest authenticity and a wonderful father-son relationship make this low budget production a more than worthwhile experience that shows how two characters undergo challenges and changes, which strengthens their bond and deepens their love.
  • WHERE ESKIMOS LIVE is one of those surprise films that appears out of nowhere, without ballyhoo, not apparently having been on the theatrical release circuit, yet once discovered serendipitously in the video store and watched, makes such an impact that its anonymity is a puzzle. Writer/director Tomasz Wiszniewski (with Robert Brutter sharing the writing credits) has created a unique and brave little film that takes advantage of some unknown terrain and retains the flavor of a country in all manner of representation.

    The place is Bosnia during the war when entire cities were being destroyed, leaving the children homeless, without parents, fending for themselves in any way possible. They live in squalor, in famine, stealing what they can to survive, yet holding together as a group with some sense of hopeless dignity. Among these boys is Vlado (Sergiusz Zymelka), a street-smart kid always on the lookout for his Down's Syndrome friend while seeking any way possible to escape his fate. Enter Sharkey (Bob Hoskins) brandishing a UNICEF passport and badge (he is from Norway where Eskimos live...!) trying to 'save' one small boy from the war to freedom and protection across the border. He meets all manner of opposition, especially from the military Colonel Vuko (Krzysztof Majchrzak), who decides to let Sharkey pass on the condition that Sharkey take his sole young daughter to safety. Fate strikes, the jeep with the Colonel's daughter explodes and Sharkey narrowly escapes with the Colonel in hot pursuit mistakenly thinking the landmine that destroyed the jeep was engineered by Sharkey. Sharkey encounter's Vlado's gang and eventually Vlado talks Sharkey into taking him as the 'saved' boy, fully realizing that Sharkey's Unicef badge is a cover for his unlawful child marketing. The two bond slowly and in time each uses the other for their private goals and gradually they grow to need each other to survive. Their relationship is radiant and inspiring and leads them to surprising changes in their lives.

    The cast is extraordinary: Hoskins knows how to make an evil con man grow on his viewer and Sergiusz Zymelka is a gifted young actor. The film is difficult to watch at times because the camera does not shy away from the heinous crimes and gore of war, but that fact only serves to make the story more credible. The dialogue is a bit shallow and awkward at times, but the message is obviously from the heart. This is a fine low budget film from a Polish director and cast that makes us take notice of unknown talents. It is a fine little film! Grady Harp
  • I caught this film yesterday on cable TV channel. Though it wasn't about eskimos it was surprisingly very good. So I was pleasantly surprised watching this touching and realistic drama about recent Balkan war. Well, it can be any of modern war - war it's a horrible thing wherever it happens.

    I don't like tell many words about the plot but because this film isn't famous it worth several lines. It's a 1995, in former Yugoslavia, at the height of the war. Bob Hoskins (only one Anon-Polish actor in the movie) played Sharkey, who wants for some reason get a kid (perfectly played by young polish talent Sergiusz Zymelka) out of a war torn country. Everywhere is anarchy, brigandage and marauding. Man's life worth simply nothing. For young orphan Vlado Sharkey it's the only chance for escaping from this nightmare. But for this they must travel hundreds miles through many obstacles. At the time of this journey we learn more about two main characters. All scenes through the agonizing country were perfectly shot and looked incredibly powerful and realistic. Also I found story didn't so forced like in some others modern war films (though it also wasn't flawless here). Cinematography was almost perfect, also worth to mention the very good soundtrack.

    Overall, I found Where Eskimos Live very good for such small-budgeted production. So, if you get a chance I recommend to all people check it out.

    My grade 8,6 or A-. Thanks for reading and sorry for my bad English.
  • neiljones198116 May 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    Every once in a while, a movie comes along that you'll just fall in love with despite having never heard of it previously. I discovered this gem of a movie when I was looking for items to add to my online DVD rental list. One viewing later and I loved it, in fact for the whole time I had this DVD (about ten days IIRC) I think I watched it at least half a dozen times.

    Set in 1995 in war-torn Bosnia, a man called Sharkey sets out to find a small boy to take out of the country for child trade purposes. This small boy turns out to be Vlado Petric, an orphan of the conflict and with hardened survival instincts. Vlado has a heart of gold, being overly protective towards a member of his gang who is regularly pushed around by the others, but this kid isn't totally selfless, and puts himself forward to go with Sharkey to leave Bosnia but Vlado really wants to go to Norway where the Eskimos live.

    The outbound trip is one fraught with peril, realisation and hope. Sharkey is a man on a mission, just doing his job. Vlado is just a boy and his being a boy (by his actions) initially irritates Sharkey but there is a bond forming between the pair. This doesn't stop them having a huge argument though. The scene where Vlado single handily saves Sharkey from being shot dead cements their bond, and is one of the highlights of the movie.

    Bob Hoskins stars in this movie, although it's always been kind of hard to take him seriously in any acting role ever after you've seen him in Super Mario Brothers in a plumber's outfit. Don't even go there. Hoskins acts very well here, a good solid performance.

    Sergiusz Zymelka steals the entire show for me. A great little Polish child actor who's capable of handling anything that this movie can throw at him and a lot more to boot. The performance is virtually flawless from Sergiusz but then the role demands it really. Nevertheless, he can act Bob Hoskins off the screen any day (a feat which isn't really all that difficult IMO).

    In short - great movie, worth watching, great acting, good solid drama with a spot of action and a sense of "all will be right with the world one day" about it.
  • arric20 January 2002
    Perhaps it was because I had missed two other movies because the Sundance volunteers couldn't give directions to save their lives (only partially kidding, I know there were some people there who were doing great work), but when I finally got to actually see a movie at this year's Festival I was excited to begin with. But being the cynical b***ard that I am that excitement would have worn off if the movie I was watching would have sucked. Luckily, it didn't.

    Expecting a semi-documentary on grainy film focusing in on igloos, I was surprised to see a surly Bob Hoskins fill the screen. In your typical An-American-passport-will-get-you-through-almost-anything sort of way this movie progressed rather nicely. (What's with movies where the local "police" feel free to take passports? e.g. The Mexican and this movie) What are they going to do with them anyway?)

    It tells a story that is not so heartwarming when you find out certain things about Hoskins character but he does a nice 180. How he finds the little fella he is escorting across the border after they separate is a slight suspension of disbelief but was done in a charming enough way that I was willing to do so.

    A little harder to believe was the pride of the little boy in some scenes. When give the ability to get out of his war-torn country he definitely displays some spunk that I don't know would still be present in a small child in the middle of the war. But children and movies surprise us all the time.

    Check this out when you get a chance.
  • arric15 December 2002
    Driving thru Park City on a frantic trip to get back to Pennsylvania before law classes started again I was happy to be able to get into any movie, even one that sounded like it was going to be a 90 minute Warholesque still shot of an igloo.

    However, I was pleasantly surprised to get an drama spliced with some action with I guess a touch of realism thrown in for good measure.

    I am not giving away much of the plot to say that Hoskins is basically a man trying to get a child out of a war torn country. You needn't know much more than that. It could be set in any country during any war but the fact that is is so close to the present gives it a very cool feel. If you are looking to be blown away but want to have a pleasant movie experience I say check this puppy out.
  • marieinkpen18 August 2009
    8/10
    good
    this film is far from perfect but any quibbles don't really amount to much, which is odd because the main quibble is that bob hoskins isn't very good in it. in some ways it doesn't really matter because the young boy playing his co-star is absolutely exceptional. bob hoskins' accent changes every single time he opens his mouth - at first i thought he was just doing a very embarrassing eastern European voice, then it went to his usual geezerish tones, at times he sounded like he was going to elocution lessons, and then there was the bearish grunts. also, his acting in the scene where he thinks he is going to be shot as a spy is dire - his facial expressions just looked like he'd been served with some soggy cucumber sandwiches at a tea party. the other quibble is that occasionally the music tries to milk an emotion when direction is really not needed, although on the whole the music is great. on the plus side is the child actor, & some awful war scenes of what it is like for the average person caught up in a war, scenes of victims, and the concern that how the hell can a child settle back into a normal existence who has witnessed such horror and lived this life
  • I generally stay away from war movies. Its hard for me have to watch what people have to endure on a daily basis. It is especially hard to have to think about all the children out there who are orphans because of it. That is the basis of the movie. Sharkey has papers to get a 9 yrs old boy out of the country, so he searches for a boy that fits the profile. He runs into a gang of orphans who banned together to take care of each other. The boy who designated himself the leader will only let him take a grown boy with learning disabilities. As Sharkey continues on his quest, a young boy sneaks away from the group to see if Sharkey will take him. He is the right age, so Sharkey sets off with the boy. This is the story of their journey of running into other gangs, road blocks, dodging gun fire and other dangers. When he gets to his destination, he wonders if the boy is in just as much danger. He has to figure out how to get him out of that situation. It was a good movie, depressing and disturbing at times. But it was made very well and the acting by Sharkey and Vlado was wonderful. I am sure it did a good job of realistically depicting the horrors of war.
  • This film easily ranks as one of the worst movies I have ever seen! And I don't mean that in a "so-bad-it's-almost-good" kind of way. The nicest thing I can say about it was that it was well-intentioned. The plot was embarrassingly amateurish, and relied on several bizarre coincidences. For example, the entire premise (and hence the title) rests on the fact that the boy, Vlado, who has been orphaned in the Bosnian conflict, dreams of escaping to Norway, because that's "where Eskimos live". But, inexplicably, Bob Hoskins' character, Sharkey (who is supposed to be Polish) introduces himself to Vlado by saying he comes from Norway. This is never explained, but we are meant to accept that Vlado somehow trusts Sharkey, because he says he Norwegian. What's also inexplicable is just how bad Bob Hoskins (sublime in films like "Felicia's Journey") is in this film. He didn't phone in his performance - he asked a casual acquaintance to email it for him. Hoskins' accent veered from Cockney to very fake-sounding upper-crust British, to very fake-sounding sort-of Polish. Then he just gave up and grunted like a dyspeptic bear. But the other actors weren't any better. If you want to see a good film about the Bosnian conflict, try "Cabaret Balkan" or "No Man's Land". Just don't waste any time or money trying to get through "Where Eskimos Live".