It is not true that Clint Eastwood is necessarily better behind the camera, but he definitely does a good job when he is. And the again, it is easy to believe that it is Ken Watanabe who is the central character – well he is in a lead role. In my opinion there is no lead role other than the subject, but then was it about war? If the film is about the futility of the war (which I truly doubt it is), then I am a fairly disappointed. Because the film often gets heavily involved with Japanese culture and lifestyle that is very in your face.
It is perhaps better to see the story of a few people in a particular situation; an array of colourful personalities in a monochrome situation. Talking of colour, yet another film that desaturates the colour of a war-situation. We saw that to an extent in The Valley of Elah. What does lack of colour really mean in war movies – I am yet to decipher that. In fact war is most colourful (note, I don’t say cheerful). Perhaps desaturating the movie is about taking the cheer out of it. I don’t know.
One scene, in which a US soldier is taken captive, was particularly interesting, more so, if you recall a similar scene in Black Hawk Down.
I loved what Clint Eastwood does with building and presenting his characters. the smile, the snicker, the shock, the silence, the contemplation, the fear and disgust are well-captured, well presented.
He did it to good effect in Million Dollar Baby, he has done it again.
I haven’t seen Flags of Our Fathers; Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers are supposed to be ‘sister films’. Perhaps, this review will be in better perspective after that film is also seen.
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) is a definite collectible. A must have in your DVD collection. (Don’t put in the “War Films” shelf)