Review: Stateless

Yvonne Strahovski in Stateless

Stateless shines a light on the plight of people detained in immigration centers. It shows how these inhumane places destroy families and lives. It’s based on true events in Australia.

Stateless, created by Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, and Elise McCredie, tells a multilayered story. There are many characters, I’ll give you a glimpse into only a few.

Yvonne Strahovski in Stateless
My name is Eva and I’m from Germany

Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski) is an Australian woman. She has mental health problems, which grow increasingly worse over time. She is wrongly sent to an immigration detention center because she lies about her name and nationality.

Cate Blanchett in Stateless
Pat sings and dances her way into Sofie’s madness and Gordon sends her on a trail of trauma.

Before Sofie became completely disconnected from reality, she was involved in a cult led by Gordon Masters (Dominic West) and his wife Pat (Cate Blanchett). These two appear in the first episode to exploit and abuse Sofie. They make fleeting appearances in the other episodes as part of Sofie’s hallucinations and madness.

Sofie’s sister Margot (Marta Dusseldorp) searches frantically for her.

Jai Courtney in Stateless
Cam learns the job from hardened co-workers.

Cam (Jai Courtney) lands a job as a guard in the detention center. The job slowly destroys him as the cruelty and horror of what he’s doing take over his life. He has a wife (Maria Angelico) and 3 kids. Before he took the job, he was a great husband and father.

Cam’s sister Janice (Kate Box) is an activist who protests the immigration center and Australia’s policies toward refugees. She’s part of several plots with Sister Bernadette (Chrissie Page) to help smuggle things in or break people out.

Asher Keddie and Darren Gilshenan in Stateless
And representing the government we have Clare and Brian

Clare (Asher Keddie) is sent to the camp because of bad publicity. Her job is to make the place look good again. She blames Brian (Darren Gilshenan) for all the existing problems – until she begins to understand what’s really happening. The feet-deep pile of unexamined cases piled on her desk is horrifying.

Fayssal Bazzi and Soraya Heidari in Stateless
This Pakistani family is torn apart

Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi) and his daughter Mina (Soraya Heidari) represent the displaced, the refugees, and the immigrants in the camp. They are Pakistani, but the camp holds Tamil, Iranian, Indian, and many other people.

Ameer’s wife and one child were lost in the boat trip there. He does his best for Mina once they are locked in the detention center, but the system is against them. It’s against all the detainees in the camp. People live for years in this situation, waiting for some authority somewhere to declare them honest citizens and set them free to live their lives.

The young woman who ran from rapists, the man with a family waiting out the outside, the man who sits silently with his suitcase beside him day after day, the woman who gardens, the homosexual who would be killed at home – these stories and more fill the camp.

The discovery of a mentally ill Australian citizen in the camp led to a publicity madhouse. There were investigations and changes in the Australian immigration policies. The most significant was that the centers were moved out of the country – out of sight, out of mind.

The series, while powerful and moving, was more broad strokes than depth. The characters were well acted and each important in different ways. But with so much story to tell in only 6 episodes, the depth of understanding for each character wasn’t there. Perhaps it didn’t need to be. The point of Stateless was well made.

Kudos to series creators Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, and Elise McCredie for telling this story. Kudos to the excellent cast. I hope the series will bring some changes to the refugee situation in Australia.

The six episode series was directed by directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse. The episodes have interesting titles, none more pertinent than the last, “The Seventh Circle.” Immigration detention centers do truly represent a kind of hell.

As an American, I wish that refugees and immigrants were treated well by my own country. What we do here is exponentially worse than what we see in Stateless. If this series brings any improvements in American immigration policy I will be forever grateful.

Poster for Stateless

Here is the trailer.

Have you watched Stateless? What did you think of it?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

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