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  Redacted Wrong TurnBuy this film here.
Year: 2007
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Patrick Carroll, Izzy Diaz, Rob Devaney, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Kel O'Neill, Ty Jones, Mike Figueroa, Qazi Freihat, Adel Odai, Issam Shamary, Sahar Alloul, Zahra Zubaidi, Shatha Haddad, Suhail Abdal Hussein, Ohad Knoller, Abigail Savage
Genre: Drama, War
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in 2006, there was a crime committed by American soldiers in Iraq and this is a collection of footage, some of it taken at the scene and some of it from documentaries and "home movies", that aims to piece together what really happened and draw some kind of conclusion from it. We first see the clips taken by Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz) of his army buddies as they relax in their barracks, discussing why they think they are there and not being able to come up with any good answers, but they're pretty much goofing around for the camera. Later, when Salazar's lens records the rape of a fifteen-year-old Iraqi girl, nobody is joking...

Redacted was a low budget film shot by writer and director Brian De Palma who opted to tackle the Iraq war, a more popular subject in the movies than you might expect - only not with audiences who in general stayed away from such subjects when looking for entertainment. That's it, of course, the films here are more interested in coming to terms with the war and prompting those watching in ways to react to it, in a more emotional manner than they might see on as news report. De Palma took an unusual method in bringing his based-in-reality tale to the screen, with the film looking as if someone has selected footage from the internet and the television, along with that amateur videoing.

Or at least that's the idea, but the actors are a little too self-conscious for this to be successful. Still, it's testament to the power of the subject matter that after a while you get used to the too-studied naturalistic acting and start to engage with the points De Palma is bringing up. Although the plot resembles an Iraqi version of his Casualties of War, as if to highlight parallels between what happened in the Middle East and what happened in Vietnam, the style is a lot more different, though the tone is equally sanctimonious. Here the attempt is to make this come across as realistic as possible, as if ignoring how contrived the work appears.

While the director is closer to his "trickster" movies that he began his career with than he is with his elegantly photographed efforts that he had his greatest success with, the sense of humour is notably lacking in Redacted. Any overbearing earnestness is mitigated by the fact that there were far more civilians being killed in Iraq than terrorists and insurgents, and this is what is brought home, either through flashing statistics up onscreen as part of a French documentary, or through showing the characters actually killing those innocents - all staged for the camera, naturally, but based in truth. When one of the soldiers guns down a pregnant woman in error at a checkpoint, he says he feels nothing, and this film is driven to make you, the viewer feel something instead of him.

Not that every American soldier depicted is some bloodthirsty, cold-hearted monster, as with every perilous situation there are good and bad. It's just that if Redacted makes any point at all, it's that the bad overshadows the good, and the atrocities committed by the criminal troops are going to be recalled far more than the actions of those who are doing their best for their country, and for the foreign country they are occupying. De Palma places the rape scene in the middle of his film, as secretly filmed by Salazar, but it is not presented as the set piece highlight that other movies featuring rapes too often do, so there's nothing sensationalist about it, and that's to be applauded. The after effects of the crime are felt strongly not only by the family of the girl, most of whom are shot dead by the rapists but by their fellow soldiers too. What the film does not supply is a reason or even a solution for this mess, and ending on a montage of actual Iraqi war photographs illustrates that it may be too late for one judging by this.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Brian De Palma  (1940 - )

Controversial American director and Alfred Hitchcock fan, strong on style, but weak on emotion. His early, political films like Greetings and Hi, Mom! gained some acclaim, but it was with Sisters that he emerged as a major talent of the 1970s and settled into his cycle of thrillers and horrors: The Phantom of the Paradise, Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, Carlito's Way, Raising Cain, Snake Eyes and Femme Fatale being good examples.

He's not aversed to directing blockbusters such as Scarface, The Untouchables and Mission Impossible, but Bonfire of the Vanities was a famous flop and The Black Dahlia fared little better as his profile dipped in its later years, with Passion barely seeing the inside of cinemas. Even in his poorest films, his way with the camera is undeniably impressive. Was once married to Nancy Allen.

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