Restrepo (15)

Film

Documentaries

Restrepo.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Oct 5 2010

With ‘The Hurt Locker’, Kathryn Bigelow claimed that war was the adrenalin junkie’s prescription of choice. Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s harrowing frontline doc ‘Restrepo’ shows how on the money Bigelow was. It offers new and fascinating angles to the debate over why we fight.

Hetherington has form in the world of combat documentaries; he was cinematographer on the brutal Darfur genocide film ‘The Devil Came on Horseback’. Junger is a long-time war correspondent with ties to the film industry (he wrote the book that became ‘The Perfect Storm’). For ‘Restrepo’, the pair risked life and limb by embedding themselves with a group of fledgling grunts from Battle Company, part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the US Army, in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, the vicious epicentre of a disputed zone where the faint popping of machine-gun fire echoes across tree-lined hills.

Apart from showing how good humour, brotherly love and ad-hoc bouts of wrestling enable these soldiers to stay sane, ‘Restrepo’ brilliantly captures the dynamics of war and the way in which blissful silence can suddenly be punctured by gunfire. At the beginning, when Hetherington and Junger are being taxied in a Humvee, a vehicle in front of them runs over a landmine and a fire-fight breaks out. The sound of the guns is so intense that their microphone malfunctions, and the chaos plays out to a soothing ambient drone.

Intimacy is central to the film’s power. The camera lingers on the soldiers’ smiles and tears and shows the human face of military tactics which reduce people to chess pieces. Detailed testimony from soldiers offers sinister psychological context to the images and reveals that the film’s title comes from the name of a fallen comrade (Juan ‘Doc’ Restrepo) and a ramshackle sniper nest christened in his honour. This perfectly encapsulates one of the film’s key themes, which is that while some men may get a buzz from blasting a mortar shell into the unknown, others find solace in being reminded of their own mortality and that maybe it’s better to be ‘in the shit’ than to be stiff in a box.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Oct 8, 2010

Duration:

94 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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LiveReviews|4
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Mike

Terrifying, moving, uplifting, superbly photographed and directed. 5 stars.

Mike

Terrifying, moving, uplifting, superbly photographed and directed. 5 stars.

Oliver Franklin

Hi David, Good review of a great film. One tiny gripe though - Sebastian and Tim were not both in the Humvee, only Sebastian was. And it was the Humvee he was in, not the one in front, that hit the IED. It does Sebastian a disservice to miss out on that, I think. Other than that though, a fine review. I recommend everyone see this film and pick up a copy of War, Sebastian's book about the Korengal, and Infidel, Tim's photography from their time there. Oliver

Oliver Franklin

Hi David, Good review of a great film. One tiny gripe though - Sebastian and Tim were not both in the Humvee, only Sebastian was. And it was the Humvee he was in, not the one in front, that hit the IED. It does Sebastian a disservice to miss out on that, I think. Other than that though, a fine review. I recommend everyone see this film and pick up a copy of War, Sebastian's book about the Korengal, and Infidel, Tim's photography from their time there. Oliver