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Shell Shock (2009)
"Triage" (original title)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 7,669 users  
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The wife of a photojournalist sets out to discover why he came home from a recent assignment without his colleague.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
David
...
Elena Morales
...
Diane
...
Dr. Talzani
...
Talzani's Assitant
Kae Bahar ...
Wounded Man (as Karzan Sherabayani)
...
Pesh Merga Commander
...
Pesh Merga Sergeant (as Alejandro Sánchez)
...
Ivan
...
Amy
Michelle Hartman ...
Nurse
...
Dr. Christopher
...
Dr. Hersbach
...
Joaquín Morales
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Storyline

Mark and David are best friends, photo journalists going from war to war. In the spring of 1988, they're in Kurdistan, at an isolated mountain clinic, waiting for an offensive. David's had enough - he wants to go home to Dublin to his pregnant wife. He leaves, with Mark promising to follow in a few days. A week or so later, Mark's home after being wounded, but David's not been heard from. Mark's slow recovery and uncharacteristic behavior alarm his girlfriend, Elena, who asks her grandfather, a Spanish psychologist, to come to Dublin to help. Are there things the carefree and detached journalist is bottling up? Is he a casualty of war? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for war violence, disturbing images, language, brief sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

| | |

Language:

| | | |

Release Date:

13 November 2009 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Shell Shock  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First released at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009, alongside another of Colin Farrell's movies, Ondine (2009). See more »

Quotes

Joaquín Morales: [Mark has just talked of an early experience as a war photographer involving a young boy's murder] Why do you think this incident affected you?
Mark Walsh: I dunno. Maybe I felt responsible.
Joaquín Morales: Well perhaps if you hadn't been there, he wouldn't have run. The soldiers would not have fired, hmm?
Mark Walsh: [after a pause] I suppose so...
Joaquín Morales: Well that makes perfect sense. You feel that you're responsible because to a great degree, you are. You think I'm too harsh? How many people have you told this story to, Mark? Four? Three? ...
[...]
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User Reviews

 
The Numbing. Destructive Silences of War Experience
1 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

TRIAGE is a well chosen title for this film about who survives an who dies in war: at times those triage decisions are made by serendipity (read 'bad luck'), at times they are made by physicians or medics tending the wounded on the battlefield, and at times they are submerged in the apparent 'survivors' only to later crush the life from those who make it home. Writer/Director Danis Tanovic has adapted Scott Anderson's novel is a manner that carries the seemingly simple act of 'triage' throughout the film, showing how that action can affect the lives of friends, family, and psychological wholeness of the victim.

Mark Walsh (Colin Farrell, in yet another powerful role) and his buddy David (Jamie Sives) are war photographers for a newspaper edited by Amy (Juliet Stevenson). Their current assignment is Kurdistan and the terrifying realities they not only experience but also commit to film are of such a horrid nature that they both are in shock: they not only witness killings and landmine explosion deaths, but they also watch one Dr. Talani (Branko Djuric) triage the wounded, deciding who can survive care and who is so near death that they are put aside to be later 'executed' by Dr. Talani in a compassionate gesture to end their futile suffering. The tension is so great that David decides to return home, leaving Mark to carry on the assignment. An explosion occurs and Mark is seriously injured but survives and after being tended by Dr. Talani he is encouraged to return home. There is no news as to where David is.

Mark returns home to his adoring Elena (Paz Vega), presents his photographs to Amy, and begins to heal: David's wife Diane (Kelly Reilly) is due to deliver their first child in two weeks and has had no word from David. We watch as Mark, eroded by his experiences in Kurdistan, retreat into a state of decline. Elena grows fearful as Mark, despite hospitalizations and medical care, continues to deteriorate and out of desperation she calls her grandfather Joaquin, a psychiatrist who treated the victims of the Spanish Civil War (Elena is still angry that her own grandfather treated the perpetrators of the destruction that war caused). Joaquin slowly brings Mark into the acceptance of how his mind has triaged the events in Kurdistan and leads Mark to discover the truths about incidents in what war for which he has blamed himself. We finally understand David's disappearance at the moment when his and Diane's child is born.

This is a tough story to watch: subtitles would help the audience understand the many dialects used in the film. But the message is clear and the acting is superb by every member of the cast, even very small but cogent cameos by Reece Ritchie as a boy in Beirut and Dada Ashi as a Ugandan woman - two of the early incidents Mark must remember and face in his work with Joaquin. The cinematography is dazzling, especially the use of flashbacks of a raging river so important in Mark's memory recall, and the constant focus on the blue and yellow tags that mark the triage decisions. This is another powerful anti-war film, this time as seen through the eyes of a non-combatant observer. It is important to see.

Grady Harp


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