Reviewed by: Jonathan Rothgeb
Starring: Marie Trintignant, Alun Armstrong, Christopher Clarke, Andie MacDowell, David Strathairn | Directed by: Elie Chouraqui | Produced by: Albert J. Cohen, Elie Chouraqui, Albert Cohen | Written by: Elie Chouraqui, Didier Le Pecheur, Isabel Ellsen, Michael Katims | Distributor: Universal Focus
When I first saw a trailer for this movie I must say I was only somewhat intrigued (note to self: go with your first intuition). After reading about the film I thought, “Hey this would make a good date flick.” *WRONG!* Though promoted as a action/romance, make no mistake this is a war film in its rawest form.
The basic synopsis is a story of a world class photojournalist named Harrison Lloyd (David Strathairn) who, in “the waning years of his career, takes an assignment covering the Serbian-Croatian war.” He soon is reported dead but his wife Sarah (Andie MacDowell), does not believe it and is bent on going after him. So begins a rather unbelievable story of a wife taking on the role of a photojournalist and entering the worst elements of war to rescue her wounded husband.
On her first day she is almost raped and killed but is able to stumble across the help of two other photojournalist who agree to take her into the very heat of the enemy line.
The element of romance is quickly lost in the graphic nature of this film. I have seen “Saving Private Ryan,” “Blackhawk Down,” and “We Were Soldiers,” and yet none of those pictures touched on some of the worst elements of war—how the civilians are treated. This war was especially horrible, because it was genocide in its purest form. There are scenes of rape, child murder and rape, and mass murder. The language is also prolific with profanity and there is accepted drug use even before the war scenes. The single redeeming factor is that it shows a strong family bond and mutual support, but that’s about it.
I was caught up in the story but it did tend to drag much of the time. And as mentioned before, the whole premise was rather unbelievable. In the wake of the murder of Daniel Pearl, the film gave me a glimpse of reality for many journalist who cover wars. I just think it could have been handled so much better. I walked away believing that this movie was more about taking advantage of a nation engrossed in war films than about conveying some sort of message about war.
I would not recommend this picture. Your money would be better spent if you saw a war movie with a more positive message, like “We Were Soldiers”.