Synopsis by Mark Deming
A woman struggles to hold on to her sanity and dignity behind bars in this hard-hitting drama from filmmaker Olivier Masset-Depasse. Tania (Anne Coesens) is a former French teacher from Russia who has been living in Belgium for the past eight years, where she earns her living as a cleaning woman and looks after her 14-year-old son, Ivan (Alexandre Gontcharov). But Tania has a secret -- she and her son are in Belgium illegally, and she lives in fear that she'll be found out by authorities. Tania's worst suspicions are confirmed when she's stopped by the police one day, and without proper documents she's sent to a detention facility for illegal immigrants, though Ivan is able to slip away to the home of a family friend. Taking the advice of her friends, Tania refuses to identify herself or cooperate with the police, but the Belgian authorities are unforgiving in their treatment of illegals, and as she's emotionally put through the wringer and subjected to physical deprivation, Tania finds herself locked in a battle of wills to see how long she can retain her composure before she cracks. Illegal received its world premiere at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, as part of the Directors' Fortnight program.
battle-of-wills, Belgium, cleaning-woman, detention-camp, illegal-alien, immigrant, imprisonment