Wednesday, 18 June 2014

REVIEW - KORENGAL (SEBASTIAN JUNGER)


The second impression of war from Sebastian Junger, a reflection upon and depiction of the daily activities of the squadron stationed at the remote outpost Restrepo in Afghanistan's Korengal valley. Junger observes them first-hand, his method at once intimate yet removed, and also conducts interviews with the squadron's members after their tour, as they offer up their own subjective judgement on an experience few can know. There's a sense of monotony in their routines, the desperate boredom of being situated so distant from western civilisation, and the terror of near-relentless assault from Taliban fighters. In this examination of mundanity, Junger transitions smoothly from a physical perspective to an emotional one, and though his subjects may be varying degrees of eloquent or reliable, their testimony is powerful in its pertinence. It's also distinctly sanctimonious - this is a very contemptuous film. Junger gives a nod or two to the horror that is warfare, or even the very notion of it, but otherwise wholeheartedly supports these men's personal interpretations of their place in the world. It's less a portrait of dangerous individuals than a tribute to damaged heroes, which is a tone irreconcilable with Korengal's content, and so often are these soldiers seen to act in such a dishonorable manner that Junger's reverence swiftly becomes irksome. A frequently melancholy film, its spasms of brutal life rather spoil the initially subdued mood, and by generally vicious means, such as one memorable celebration of murder. When this mood is broken, it never catches hold again, and what sets this frankly redundant feature apart from its predecessor, Restrepo, is lost.