Shooting any feature for less than $1 million is quite an achievement, but a compelling indie war movie? As impossible as it sounds, after a decade of work (and a very dedicated cast and crew), Ari Taub has managed just that. Told from multiple points of view, the film centers on three factions of soldiers—German, American and Italian—trying to survive the last days of World War II in a picturesque part of Northern Italy. The Nazis are starving and awaiting backup; when Mussolini’s troops finally arrive, the Italians become unruly. Close by, a group of U.S. supply soldiers with no combat experience is trying to make a delivery to the front line. All the while, Italian locals fight, hide or profit from the chaos around them.
Since Taub didn’t have a Hollywood budget, he wisely favors characters over special effects. Countless films have equated war with hell; here it is purgatory. Everyone is in limbo, waiting for the conflict—or their lives—to end. In the meantime, they talk about sex, romance civilians, battle among themselves, get drunk, make black-market deals and question what they’re fighting for. The acting from the international (and unknown) cast is remarkable: No one comes off as a hero or villain—they’re all simply human, which makes their inevitable demise all the more tragic. (Opens Thu; Pioneer.)—Raven Snook