Thursday, 14 January 2016

REVIEW - A WAR (TOBIAS LINDHOLM)


An apolitical political film. Bless these dear Northern Europeans and their level-headed erudition - it makes a movie, for sure, but does it make a movie work? A War is a movie about the mind, and the war that rages within it, much more than the war that exists outside it in simmering spurts. The toll of this real, tangible violence is taken mainly upon the mind, where healing and redemption seem as mutually exclusive as truth and fiction, right and wrong, under such political pressure. Lindholm's flat, insipid visuals are the perfect signposts for his cerebral musings - they invite you to think, rather than to see. It's a rather pathetic perversion of this art form, of all that cinema can achieve, but it's successful in its aspirations. You do think throughout A War, initially about familiar, identifiable emotions, eventually about knottier, scarier, deep-seated truths about ourselves, our priorities and our insecurities. It's intellectual and it's intelligent, but A War is not always worthy of itself. The meat of this movie is truncated by Lindholm's impulse to fully flesh his characters out, when they're largely not especially fleshy to begin with. They're average, bland, real people, and Lindholm's humanism draws him deeper into describing their average, bland personae with unnecessary dedication. The result is that A War's more promising second half is blighted by strange shortcuts - a curious occurrence here, a silly soundbite there, all to streamline a narrative that had once been quite satisfactorily sloppy. These mildly aggravating dichotomies may befit a movie that thrives upon depicting situations of a similar nature, but they don't help make this movie work.