January 13, 2010

See: The Hurt Locker

Katheryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker follows the fortunes of a tight-knit bomb squad as they near the end of their rotation in Iraq. That they're tight-knit is a necessity of their job and of their situation; left to their own devices, it's hard to imagine the three men would be nodding acquaintances, let alone trust each other with their lives day in and day out.

It's a tense film, full of suspense, that seemingly paradoxically lets each scene unfold at its own pace. There's not much dialogue, but there doesn't need to be. We learn about the characters through their reactions and interactions. Bigelow shot nearly two hundred hours of footage for the film, and one can imagine how that may have allowed the actors the room to fully inhabit their characters, as well as allowed the editors the ability to create the experiential feeling of the film.

Mark Boal, the screnwriter, was himself embedded with a bomb squad in Iraq, the his screenplay has the ring of authenticity. He's also confident enough to let his material stand. Where lesser films might become mawkish or underline the emotional underpinnings of certain scenes (hello, Good Morning Vietnam) The Hurt Locker leaves us with ambiguities, even during emotionally climactic scenes. It's a thorougly engrossing film, fully realized.

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