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IN SHORT: War is bad.
From an absolutely and strictly film school view, actor Tim Roth's first gig in the director's chair is a very effective and fairly complete piece of work. A film is supposed to evoke reactions in its audiences. The War Zone does. A film is supposed to do that by providing well rounded characters whose actions, even if we don't understand or like them, we believe. The War Zone almost does that. It should also provide the characters with enough "background" to make them seem more realistic. The War Zone has problems with that. Still, this movie (based on the book by Alexander Stuart) is definitely going to stir reaction. As in, why the hell did I pay my money for this thing?
"The molten emotional power that flows from Tim Roth's directorial debut carries multiple messages that sear one's soul" says the indie Sundance Festival site. Yep, film festivals and film students love despicable stories that make you want to puke.
The War Zone is a story of a lower middle class Brit family freshly moved from urban London to boring as hell Devon. Tom (Freddie Cunliffe) aged fifteen, is bored out of his mind in this, the summer of the move. School looms in the near future, but there isn't much for him to do in a community with no local kidlets his age to hang with. Mom (Tilda Swinton) is off tending to their newly born sister and Dad (Ray Winstone) is busy trying to make a living. Older sister Jessie (Lara Belmont), seventeen, has it a bit better. Jessie's got her wings spread and eyes set on a return to the big city, there to start college. It's a normal family with a normal life until, one day, while moping around, Tom looks in the window and sees his sister in the bathtub with dad.
Luckily, we don't get to see what he sees. The implication is enough and when Tom confronts Jessie, who happens to be lying naked in her bed (modesty doesn't run deep in any of the characters of this story), she denies that anything is going on. To Tom, everything he sees indicates that his sister is lying to him. He finds some polaroid pictures. He finds a video camera. He shoots a tape and we get to see exactly what he sees. And it's not even close to done.
The War Zone is a bleak, despicable, and unpleasant beyond your wildest dreams story that made Cranky wish he could run for the exit within half an hour. I can't do that, of course. Trust me, even once you get past the really unpleasant part, the film gets even more unpleasant.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The War Zone, he would have paid...
You will see raves for this flick. I already see an internet PR engine kicking into high gear. Other on-line reviewers rated this flick at 4 stars. Technically? Maybe. Are you going to want to sit through this incredibly unpleasant flick? Not if you are still in possession of your stomach.
28 Weeks Later
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