M FILM – Life in a War Zone

A Thousand Times Good Night opens with a harrowing sequence as a group of women attend a burial in the desert outside of Kabul.

A Thousand Times Good Night opens with a harrowing sequence as a group of women attend what seems to be a burial in the desert outside of Kabul.

But the “corpse” isn’t dead – yet. She’s participating in a grim ritual before donning a vest loaded with explosives en route to martyrdom as a suicide bomber.

Watching all this unfold is celebrated war-zone photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche, The English Patient), her camera clicking fiercely.

But the mission goes awry, Rebecca is seriously hurt in a premature explosion, and her husband, Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones), comes to shepherd her back home to her family in far-away Ireland.

Rebecca quickly discovers that she has traded one war zone for another: Her two young daughters are horrified at her near-death experience, and Marcus is so furious at what he sees as her self-indulgent recklessness that he demands she quit her job…or say goodbye to her family.  “Do you have any idea what it’s like waiting for that call to collect your body?” he barks.

Rebecca heals slowly from her wounds, and gradually reconnects with her daughters.

Even angry Marcus eventually stops sleeping on the couch and re-bonds with the fearless woman with a bottomless passion for social justice.

Rebecca vows to lead a quieter life, but events quickly slip sideways during a supposedly safe trip to a refugee camp in Kenya with her teenage daughter. The resulting crisis and its aftermath effectively dramatize the conflict between duty and family that forms the heart of the film.

Directed by Norway’s Erik Poppe (Troubled Water), who, himself, used to be a war photographer for Reuters, Thousand is powerful, honest, and thoughtful. Appropriately for a film about a photographer, it is also handsomely shot.

Although nobody is likely to accuse this drama of being overly subtle, it does a fine job of examining both the possibly mixed motives of this risk-taking mother and the harsh impact her choices have on her family.

But what really brings the film to life is the powerful and marvellously nuanced performance by Binoche. Is Oscar watching?

Thousand opens at the Vic Theatre on October 24 for a one-week run.

Rating: ***1/2

Stars Juliette Binoche and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed by Erik Poppe

 

COMING SOON:

John Wick

Keanu Reeves stars as an ex-hitman who comes roaring out of retirement to take revenge on gangsters who make the mistake of messing with him. Co-starring Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane.

 

St. Vincent

A crass misanthrope (Bill Murray) mostly interested in drinking and gambling takes a young, lonely kid under his wing. The great cast for this comedy-drama includes Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, and Terrence Howard.

 

Rosewater

Late-night satirist Jon Stewart wrote the screenplay for and directed this true-life story of Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was brutally interrogated in Iran on trumped-up charges. Starring the great Gael Garcia Bernal.

 

Nightcrawler

This crime thriller features Jake Gyllenhaal as a budding crime reporter who delves, rather too enthusiastically, into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. With Rene Russo and Bill Paxton.

Before I Go To Sleep

Nicole Kidman plays a woman with complete amnesia due to a traumatic accident in her past.

When certain memories begin to emerge, she starts to question what she thinks she knows – and whether she should believe her husband and her doctor.

This suspense-fest also stars Mark Strong and Colin Firth.

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight) blasts off into outer space for a trippy sci-fi thriller starring Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Matthew McConaughey.

 

 

 

 

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