1 December 2010 | mjneu59
the aftermath of the 'war to end all wars'
Director Bertrand Tavernier dares to show the true futility of warfare and the hypocrisy behind every call to arms by revealing how the so-called Great War (like every other war before or since) didn't end with an armistice, except of course for the dead. Phillipe Noiret stars as a military statistician assigned to account for the missing and identify the deceased; his expertise is sought by two women, strangers to each other but linked by a terrible secret.
Noiret's character is that rarest of silver screen creatures, a middle-aged hero, and of truly heroic (but no less lifelike) proportions: competent and compassionate while at the same time flawed and uncertain. Over the course of his investigation he discovers firsthand the legacy of state-approved wholesale slaughter, and learns that after four years of bloody trench warfare some graves are best left unturned. With delicate insight and strong but subtle irony the film succeeds in putting a human face on the true victims of any war: not just the dead and disabled, but the civilians caught in the crossfire.