There and back again in an enlightening discovery of futility and despair. Jonas Carpignano's Mediterranea queries whether the better life that the refugees and migrants of the third world seek actually exists or not. Its dispassionate, indistinct advocation of assimilation arises from a feeling of cultural erosion, as American and European culture bleeds into the rest of the world, yet expects so much in return for the rest of the world bleeding back. Carpignano's empathy is palpable throughout - the vivid blues and yellows of hope, the rich, muddy browns of poverty, the intimate hand-held photography, the vibrant musical cues. It's a language of presence, yet the film tells a story of absence - great geographical and cultural distances, language barriers, and the void of purpose and fulfillment for these foreign bodies. The juxtaposition of language and content here is awkward, since in this case there's little to no assimilation; they remain separate, communicating mutually exclusive messages. This leaves Mediterranea with a void of purpose itself, resulting in a simple string of events, occurring as they do because they do, striving to achieve some humanitarian condolence from the viewer, rather than additional artistic admiration. It's a worthy story, handsomely presented, and holds some worth of its own in being one of so few stories on this topic. But would that Mediterranea knew its potential worth. As it is, the feeling that this film best communicates is that same futility felt by its characters. Strong and solid filmmaking, but little more.