Thursday, 26 May 2016

REVIEW - LAND OF MINE (MARTIN ZANDVLIET)


The allure of prestige picture status hampers so many international mid-budget productions, predominantly those of a historical nature. Martin Zandvliet's Land of Mine is one such production - modestly mounted, helmed with sense and sensitivity, but hindered by adherence to commercial tropes and bland stylistic choices. And it's regrettably unambitious too, identifying the virtue of its story in its very existence, rather than examining it with any discernible insight. Alas, Zandvliet isn't entirely incorrect in this assumption: Land of Mine's unfamiliar but true, dramatically rich story of young German POWs forced to sweep the Danish coast for Nazi landmines shortly after WWII is a compelling one, and deserving of respect and some level of accuracy in its treatment. This it is provided by Zandvliet's gentle, measured approach, but if there's any point to the film it is made early and often, with no development beyond the obvious. Indeed, Land of Mine traces wretchedly obvious narrative lines from beginning to end, thus signposting each of the supposedly shocking events that occur and nullifying their emotional impact. Yet average filmmaking reaps some rewards, getting as much right as its gets wrong. Performances are shoehorned into melodramatic conflicts and resolutions, but are uniformly capable; period recreation is strong, with an admirably authentic feel to everything but the overcooked grey tint of the cinematography. It's a mistake, but an expected one, in a film where virtually everything is expected; it's one thing this story definitely does not deserve, though - a faded postcard aesthetic, resigning Land of Mine to history. The film itself may suffer a similar fate.