Tuesday, 30 November 2010
FILM REVIEW: LEBANON
If Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker put us in the thick of the theatre of war, seriously fraying our nerves in the process, than Samuel Maoz's Lebanon further concentrates the hellish experience of battle: his film is set entirely within the confines of an Israeli military tank; recollections of his own experiences having fought in the very war he depicts.
It is day one of the 1982 war between Israel and Lebanon and four men, all conscripts, have been assigned to a tank called on to search an enemy town. They are under the orders of a paratrooper commander who has no time for their fears, hesitations or inexperience.
Lebanon is not for the claustrophobic but unlike the recent Buried, where Ryan Reynolds spent 90 minutes buried in a box, Maoz is not conducting an exercise in logistics or style. Or lack thereof, though the production designer's gone all out for authenticity: you can smell the oil that runs down the walls of the tank and the urine, which the soldiers have to 'empty' into a container.
The film, like the best war films, is an anti-war statement, highlighting the madness and futility of the exercise and the collateral damage, physical and mental, it amasses. Much like Bigelow's Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, Maoz's Lebanon wowed critics, taking out the Golden Lion for Best Film at the 2009 Venice Film Festival (yes, it's taken over a year to get here). But will that be enough to attract an audience given the notoriously hard sell of war films?