3 January 2007 | reladro
Brilliant and open-minded documentary work
No one here yet has commented much on the artistry of this film. It was adeptly shot, with a raw, on-the-fly style that caught fascinating shot after shot of Iraqi civilians and daily life (for techies, it was shot on a Panasonic 24P camera, and was almost certainly transfered to film). The editing and music are aggressive, maintaining an energy and attention span befitting the young filmmakers. Yet this is no MTV hack-job. The filmmakers catch the emotions of the film with simple beauty, such as the running storyline of Frank being reunited with his family, and showing their love, customs, and feelings. There's a smart balance between these moments and the ideological chaos that envelopes the family and the entire country.
Others here have given good synopses of the film, so I won't add more to that other than to say the structure is intentionally meandering. The filmmakers in the "extras" section of the DVD discuss how they wanted to portray an emotional journey through Iraq from many perspectives, rather than to give a linear tale neatly guided by a voice-over. Don't look either for an intellectual dissection of the Iraqi situation from the filmmakers -- but expect a dozen or more dissections from those on-camera, ranging from idiotic (a U.S. soldier who thinks we're there just because we like to go to war and test weapons every few decades) to insightful. And the insights come from all sides, which tells us something we should have remembered from Vietnam: the real problem is not good vs. evil, but rather the clash of two civilizations with a complete lack of understanding for each other.