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
If you think there are too many anti-war films out there, think again!
Being a fan of Danis Tanovic's films, I couldn't wait to see his third movie Triage". I finally watched it last night, of course, a pirated copy of the film, which still did not spoil the film for me, not even one bit. The reason why I mention these technicalities is basically just to say that not even poor sound quality compounded by a frustrating inability to appreciate fully the whole atmospheric environment that Danovic creates for the viewers with much finesse and eye for detail, takes away from the fact that this is simply a film worth watching. I tend to think that movie aficionado from the third world, being forced to choose between watching pirated copies of films that never make it to the local cinemas and not watching them at all, are actually watching these films stripped of all their non-essential elements. If the movie passes this test, I think it can be safely said that everyone's time, the film crew's time and the audience's time has been used to a good effect.
Before seeing it, I knew that the movie was about a photographer going to the war zone. That alone would have been enough for me to decide against spending 99 minutes of my otherwise super exciting life on it had someone else directed it. I say this because I myself watched them take photos of people running for their lives in the streets of Sarajevo. I vividly remember one of them taking a photo of a woman running over the stretch of the road that was exposed to sniper fire with canisters in her hands unsuspecting that having reached safety she would start hitting him full force with those canisters out of sheer frustration. On the one hand, it's not like he could have asked for her consent to be photographed in not too dignified a pose. On the other hand, one may say that being too preoccupied with survival she is not even remotely thinking at that moment about how this and no other photo may turn out to be the most symbolic of her plight. Not to digress too far, Colin Farrel's character in the movie and his best friend are off to Kurdistan to capture with their cameras yet another offensive in the two centuries long history of warfare in that country. This is the land where the situation spinned out of control long time ago. These are the people who live out their existence stripped of any real choices. It is this lack of choice and the bravery with which ordinary men like Dr Talzani and Cristopher Lee's character face it that form important aspects of this anti-war film that is so much more than that. As for Mark Walsh (Colin Farrel), his drama is taken to the extreme, probably the extremest I've seen on film recently. I will stop here in order not to spoil the film for those of you who may read this and haven't seen it yet.
Finally, let me briefly respond to some of the criticism leveled against Triage". In some comments it is said that it should have been shot in Kurdistan with more Kurds in it to add to its authenticity. Well, production-dictated requirements aside, No Man's Land" was shot in Slovenia and it does not take away from the movie's authenticity. Besides, he wants his movies to be universal, hence the references to different places across the globe in this movie. As for the comment about the relationship between characters being strained and used solely for the purpose of delivering big lines, I must say that I did not detect that strain while watching the movie and though it may be because of the poor sound quality of the pirated copy, I'm more inclined to attribute it to Tanovic's habit of using dialogue as if he was staging a play and not directing a film. To those who call him an amateur, Tanovic so far worked with Katrin Cartlidge, Miki Manojlovic, Emannuele Beart, Branko Djuric, Colin Farrel, is friends with great film-makers such as Mike Leigh, made his three feature films in three different languages and won positive acclaim at big international film festivals. I rest my case.
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