Saturday, 16 August 2014


There's something quite satisfying about departing from reality to involve oneself in the concerns of another for 90 minutes. A human story, strictly so to the extent that it almost seems to exclude all other thematic influences, Mark Jackson's War Story is indeed satisfying as what it is, though not particularly stimulating. If Jackson is attempting to communicate the purpose of his film via non-traditional stylistic methods, he comes up seriously short, for War Story has the tone and rhythm of an intellectual art film but not the depth. In fact, it's strikingly shallow, almost disaffectedly so - Lee, Catherine Keener's central role, has the demeanour of one equally feckless, though it's in Keener's performance that the film acquires its depth, and acquits this character of any such emotional emptiness. Keener's expressive face and entire body seem to carry monumental weight in the traumas she has experienced, riveted right beneath the surface, initially imperceptible but eventually devastating, seen through the desperation as she adjusts to a comfortable existence she's bewildered by, and through her taut lips and fraught eyes. One wonders if it were Jackson's intention to require his lead to shoulder the burden of keeping his film ticking forward at all, or did he structure it around this outstanding portrayal? Whatever the case, Keener is fantastic, and the rest of the film rather unremarkable. Jackson's few discernible directorial touches are insipid and oddly-informed, and War Story as a whole fails to establish a reason for its significance beyond its simplistic story. Just to escape into another person's reality, though, and made so brilliantly real by Ms. Keener, is something worth savouring.