Thursday, 24 March 2016

REVIEW - JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY (BRIAN OAKES)


An undeniable, inescapable tragedy, perpetrated on foreign soil by criminals of alien ideology. It turns one's outlook inward, inspires resentment and reflection among others, and influences an escalation of the unavoidable antagonism in any war of politics or principle. Jim: The James Foley Story identifies the grief experienced in the aftermath of such tragedy, and observes the benevolent insularity of thought that arises from it on so public a stage, though without the insight to comment upon it. Thus, it becomes affected by it, transforming it into insidious solipsism, and a sensitive, earnest documentary turns preachy and narrow-minded. An attempt to tell conflict journalist James Foley's story - namely that of his imprisonment and eventual murder at the hands of Daesh - in accessible, familiar terms that might more readily cue the desired emotional responses, Jim: The James Foley Story is wholly lacking in structural or stylistic ingenuity, though it is handsomely produced. As such, it requires some sense of drive or innovation in its content, and though its emotive components may bear some moderate effect, the unwitting ignorance of Brian Oakes' presentation nullifies their impact, and engenders only cynicism in the objective viewer. This is an apolitical film about inherently political matters, and what few nods it makes in the direction of politics are wholly unintentional, and even latently offensive. All Oakes has to at best maintain, at worst regain interest is our sympathy, in light of the film's foregone conclusion and dearth of imagination. It's a fine tribute to James Foley, though, to this one young, attractive, heterosexual, Caucasian, American cismale, in a conflict that has ravaged the Middle East. It's a tragedy for sure, but small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.