A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He forms an... See full summary »
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A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He forms an uneasy alliance with both guerillas in the countryside who want him to get pictures out to the US press, and the right-wing military, who want him to bring them photographs of the rebels. Meanwhile he has to find a way of protecting his Salvadorean girlfriend and getting her out of the country. Written by
Tony Bowden <email@example.com>
This is considered to be Oliver Stone's best film but I disagree , PLATOON is the best film helmed by Stone but SALVADOR is probably a fair way behind it . Unlike PLATOON which was a heartfelt movie mirroring the director's own experiences in Vietnam it's slightly difficult to connect with the characters . They're cynical and hedonistic to start with but improve as people as the film continues making the movie a slightly too obvious redemption plot , not helped with some Catholic imagery
James Woods plays journalist Richard Boyle . Perfect casting by Stone which got Woods his first and last Oscar nomination for Best Actor . Woods has always been superb at playing intense , manic dangerous characters and excels at playing someone who suffers from a borderline narcissistic personality disorder who continually tells the world that whilst Sydney Schanberg was picking up his Purlitzer Prize ( See THE KILLING FIELDS ) he was the last journalist out of Cambodia . It's also interesting that Boyle's main motive for going to El Salvador is that it costs a mere $50 a month to live there whilst whores and drugs are easy to come by . Of course all this changes when Boyle gets caught up in events and becomes a crusader against human rights abuses by the right wing government
The one main problem can be accused off from a moral viewpoint is one of moral equivalence . Alex Cox criticised the film where Boyle sees left wing guerrillas executing captured troops and cries that one side is as bad as the other according to Cox . I can't recall Boyle saying that but my own problem with moral equivalence is at the start of the film where Boyle self righteously proclaims he broke a story about " IRA suspects getting tortured by the Brits in Belfast " Is there any connection between the Irish troubles and what goes on in central America ? To be fair to Stone he does point out the American establishment's fear of El Salvador coming under the Soviet sphere of influence . And if Stone didn't have a deserved or otherwise reputation as a Hollywood liberal would people nitpick the film so much ?
One thing about Stone's direction is how restrained it is in relation to his later work . There's a directorial technique called " Intensified continuity " which in laymans terms is MTV style film making . Stone took this to new heights ( Or possibly depths depending on your view ) with JFK and NATURAL BORN KILLERS . Here however the camera work is disciplined with no OTT flourish and Stone thankfully lets the performances , plotting and dialogue carry the film which whilst an effective political drama doesn't carry the emotional wallop of PLATOON
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