|Index||3 reviews in total|
This is an incredibly ambitious new UK film, a debut feature from
Scottish director Brian Welsh. Suzy (Joanne Froggatt) is a British
soldier returning from Iraq to her family home on a Middlesbrough
council estate. Deeply affected by the atrocities she has witnessed,
Suzy is unable to reconnect with her daughter (Chloe-Jane Wilkinson)
and husband (Mel Raido), also a serviceman struggling to adjust, and
prone to insecurity and violent outbursts.
Focusing mainly on the issue of soldiers trying to adapt to civilian life after serving on the front line, and the effects on this of posttraumatic stress disorder, the film also tackles the morality of war, the lack of support from the system for those returning from service, racial tensions in diverse communities, and even inner city crime and poverty. The most noticeable thing however, is perhaps an issue the film is not drawn on, and that is Britain's involvement in Iraq. It's a brave, calculated move and it pays off. With so much anti-war polemic material around, the film gains some originality by refusing to commit itself to a condemnation.
Braver still though is the decision to make the central character a female soldier, and it's this that raises the film from refreshing to potentially ground-breaking. Cinema has been lacking in serious modern takes on the after-effects of war; to do so from a female perspective is unique to my knowledge. Froggatt's performance in her first major film role is incredible, and when you consider that it's a role for which there can be very little precedent her achievement is even more impressive.
Much of the cast will be familiar in the UK, with many popular TV credits between them. Froggatt herself is arguably best known for her role as John Simm's young mother in the time-travelling police drama Life on Mars. Her performance in In Our Name deserves to change that.
I'd recorded this from Sky Movies Premier, where it sat in the
graveyard shift, onto my provider's box. Normally I watch such films
whilst doing computer work.
After only a few minutes I'd surrendered to the film. It had grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. It looked serious, as was its subject matter and the acting being of a seriously high standard too.
We've all seen The Fourth of July and many of the others that attempt to spotlight the after scars of war. Supremo Brit, now Hollywood, director Paul Greengrass made his first feature 'Resurrected' in 1989 starring David Thewlis and was about a British soldier dealing with his demons around the time of the Falklands conflict. Never heard of it? It has exactly the same number of IMDb reviews as In Our Name has right now (three).
The equivalent here is a young female soldier just come back from Iraq and who had witnessed an innocent Iraqi child get killed. The same age roughly as her own little girl and unavoidably, as the flashbacks show, the parallels are obvious. Her partner, an aggressive, paranoid and volatile soldier, also having seen action in Iraq and father of their little girl, gives Suzy (an excellent and film, but not TV, newcomer) Joanne Froggatt a REALLY hard time. Not just coping with local thieves but they also with the well - and not so well - meaning friends and relatives, who are either stifling, or insensitive.
The cracks start to show; a fellow serviceman Suzy worked alongside with on the front line is threatened by Mark (the partner - an also excellent Mark Raido) when he, after an invitation from Suzy, is found drinking beer and chatting to her at home when Mark comes back in a foul mood one night.
A run-in with an Islamic taxi driver after a difficult night out sends things into realms of real ugliness and almost over the top repercussions, especially after reprisals go badly wrong. I started to think, where is this film going? Realising that Suzy must get away from her crazed and now dangerous partner, she flees with her daughter, a firearm 'borrowed' from the Regiment - and a tent.
This is powerful stuff, but not excessively so. It is certificate 18 with very realistic, no-holds barred language jettisoned about like bullets. There is no pretence, no let up in the ferocity in its message and thankfully, an ending that is neither cop-out nor contrived quick fix. Plus a sobering statement of actual fact.
First time director Brian Welsh has given us a startling film and like Paul Greengrass many years before him, he will hopefully become a major cinematic force to be reckoned with in the future.
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning
** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Suzy (Joanne Froggatt) returns home to the North East after serving a tour of duty in Iraq. She is glad to be back home, but soon finds readjusting to civilian life isn't as easy as she'd imagined. Finding herself struggling with post traumatic stress disorder over the death of a child, Suzy also has to contend with her violent partner Mark (Mel Raido), who also served in the forces, as he forces her to take drastic action which threatens to push them both over the edge.
The subject of the Iraq war and how those who served in it are returning home with mental health disorders triggered by their experiences there is something that's starting to get some attention in the press and various other outlets, and In Our Name attempts to make a drama out of it, highlighting with subtlety and sensitivity the delicate mind set of a soldier coming home. This is especially relevant when you consider more troopers die coming home than on the battlefield (through suicide/alcoholism etc) and the film sets out to show that the battle isn't over for the warrior just because they're out of the war zone.
The more deprived, decrepit areas of the NE have provided an appropriately grim backdrop for serious drama since Get Carter, and director Brian Welsh makes good use of the run down, graffiti/vandalism laden housing estates to set his story against, creating a fitting atmosphere. Froggatt is a revelation as the battle hardened soldier, a feisty hellcat who stands her ground and takes no bullsh!t, with equally decent support from Raido, Andrew Knott as a comrade who looks out for Suzy and Chloe Jayne Wilkinson as the daughter who knows more than is being let on.
Overall, quite a faultless examination, showing the inner struggles of the person who thinks they can handle everything. ****
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