31 October 2001 | khatcher-2
<< Thuy Thu Le is central to its success >>
`Casualties of War' belongs to the same year as that other anti-war film `Born on the Fourth of July'. From about the mid-eighties American feeling rose bitterly against the aftermath of the Viet Nam war: the price had been too high. Too many young men killed or wounded and, worse perhaps, too many young men psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives. `Casualties of War' does not point any accusing fingers at anyone: the film is an anguishing account of a horrendous series of actions based on real facts. Even so, our interpretation must go a little beyond what the film tells us, what we are seeing. We must ask how many more service-men lost their nerve in the middle of that jungle inferno which was Viet Nam?
Brian de Palma obliges us to enter into that indescribable hell, so that we might, with a bit of luck, if our feelings can bear the torture of witnessing such inhumane irrationality, understand a little more the agonising palpable naked terror which so many men had to go through.
However, whether Michael J. Fox or whether Sean Penn played their part better seems to overlook an obviety: without that performance by the Vietnamese girl, Thuy Thu Le, this film would have been forgotten years ago. My first seeing of that fragile creature some years ago left me nauseated, my stomache churned and I had bad dreams for several nights. That pathetic little face and her screams of anguish haunted me for days afterwards. Her performance was so compelling, rivetting, anguishing, it had me hating being a man. I only just stopped short of throwing up. Perhaps nobody expresses this better than `Tony's Corner: a Fan's Notes' (www.colba.net):
<< the performance of a young actress, a woman named Thuy Thu Le. It is to my mind, one of the bravest, most courageous, and one of the most heartbreakingly real pieces of acting that I've ever seen
the intolerable suffering that Thuy's character Oahn endures, her emotional intensity
... searing power, of blistering emotion, and raging despair, the outstanding performance of Thuy Thu Le is central to it's success >> (end partial quote)
It is one of those performances that no Oscar can ever pay for: indeed such a triviality would have been an insult. The film is cruel, sickening, loathsome, heartbreaking; but something humane, something I can't explain, something deep inside me, compelled me to see this poor `wretch' again, compelled me to witness once again her tremendous scream of despair against the bestial inhumanity of war any, every and all war. I have no love of morbidity: I shun such ridiculous programmes. But this poor creature called Thuy Thu Le forced me to see the film for a second time.
Enough: I will never see this film again. I have seen naked desperation and fear so realistic that my soul seethes to boiling point and is about to burst thus twice. That will do. In the end we are all casualties of war.....
No vote: I cannot reduce this to a simple vote. It just would not have any real meaning, would it?