Monday, May 25, 2009

The War Zone

I first saw Tim Roth's directorial debut 'The War Zone' upon its theatrical release in 2000. I was 15 at the time and the film had a profound effect on me. While rummaging through a bargain bin, I found it on VHS and recently rewatched it. Devastating, heartbreaking, and as darkly beautiful as it is difficult to watch, 'The War Zone' is a powerful, perfect and underrated film. Featuring subtle camera work, a haunting score and standout performances from the young leads who had no previous acting experience (the acne faced Freddie Cunliffe and the stunning Lara Belmont), the film unflinchingly portrays the destruction caused by incest and sexual violence. Roth refuses to shy away from the disturbing subject matter or provide resolution at the conclusion of the film, making it all the more raw and real.
At first I thought the film might have suffered slightly from a poorly chosen title- I wouldn't normally go see a film with a title like 'The War Zone,' thinking that it would be a shoot and blow 'em up action movie. But Roth is obviously making a statement about the severe, damaging effects of incest and sexual violence with the title (and the decision to stage some of the key scenes in an abandoned war bunker). War zones are not always relegated to battle fields. Sometimes our own homes can be personal war zones.
Random note- Colin Farrell (credited as Colin J. Farrell) makes one of his first film appearances in the small role of Nick.

The End

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