Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stop-Loss *

Director: Kimberly Peirce
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum
Abbie Cornish, Ciarán Hinds, Tymothy Olyphant, Mamie Gummer

It took almost a decade for Kimberly Peirce to realize that boys do cry...a lot apparently.
Her sophomore film takes on the Iraq war with the same intentions films like "The Deer Hunter" (even casting Gummer who despite family ties is sadly no Meryl Streep) and "The Best Years of Our Lives" did for their respective time periods in the past.
And the one sad truth that can be extracted from her film is precisely the fact that war, not just the one in Iraq but the concept itself, has been going on for too long already.
The rest feels like "Dawson's Creek" goes to war as we see a bunch of pretty guys return to their Texas hometown and try to re-insert themselves into society.
Phillippe plays Brandon King, the leader of the group who is stop-lossed (some sort of contractual army thing that deems you can be called back to service despite your leave). This challenges all his notions on what he thought life would be and forces him to wonder if the war was worth fighting for.
Then again is there somewhere in the planet who thinks so? "Stop-Loss" never really says anything new and instead infuses its lack of purpose with melodramatic twists that make the story feel forced and redundant.
Arriving under the MTV Films banner, the movie tries its best to attract young people by relying on hunky men, quick edits and hard rock montages that only serve in alienating the heart the film so much wants to reveal.
The cast does a satisfying job, especially Tatum as the rebel of the group who shows promising range and Cornish (looking like a hybrid of Drew Barrymore and Charlize Theron) who gives the film its only moments of grace.
But the screenplay uses the characters indiscriminately as examples and archetypes instead of building interesting stories through which we can connect to them.
They often refer to events in Iraq as "this war", as if it was something completely external to them. Which somehow is considering this is a movie and the people are fictitious, but we need to believe they aren't!
Peirce's film comes at a moment where the world has become infected with apathy and her unaffecting characters never touch any sentiments in the audience.
One of the film's montages features a title card that reads "we will remember", the same can not be said of this film.

No comments: