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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker
Dir. Kathryn Bigelow
* * * *
contains: Violent war images, swears.

The Hurt Locker is a war film unlike any other in recent memory. A film committed to the small realistic details (often the mundane), that puts into the experience through psychological rather than sensory means. The way in which Bigelow uses the bare minimum as far as story, music, and other cinematic tools, it made me think that if Robert Bresson ever made a war film, it'd probably feel a lot like this.

Bigelow is one of those directors that I always hoped would do a great film. Her vampire film Near Dark was one of the most interesting films of the 80's, and showed a world of promise. While she made the action classic Point Break, which is every bit as interesting only perhaps by absurd means, she hasn't really gotten great material to work with, until this. And she handles everything to near perfection. This is a psychological war film, that places the viewer into the experiential mindset of its characters, where war isn't a larger political event, but rather a dangerous situation where to some, it can be a drug to forget personal problems at home, and to others a physical embodiment of a standoff with more abstract personal issues, such as mortality. It's morally ambiguous; its handling of the peripheral characters who may or may not be trying to blow you up, is handled perfectly; its tense but not overly paranoid. Essentially, it's the complete opposite of a film like Platoon. This film captures a way of life accurately and artfully, and that way of life happens to be a group of soldiers in Iraq. Like the best films, its universal in being specific.

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