Should be a documentary

Review by Redspur  

America is getting sick. Alex Garland has offered us a vaccination for what ails us. Like a serum for snake bite made of venom itself, this film grabs us by the shoulders and screams "You got a civil war fantasy? Fine, I'll put it on a 40 foot screen and dare you to cheer."

Civil War finds it's foundational vision in the eyes of those who for decades have brought us the soul shattering reality of war, free from the romance of Hollywood patriotism- war journalists whose frenzied, conflicted odyssey plunges them into a mad gauntlet of fire and film, killing and Kodachrome. Like soldiers in a war of attrition, they must constantly reassess the purpose of they're risks and sacrifices as they watch their colleagues fall for the sake of the priceless pictorial story of war. Three generations of war correspondents traveling together into the insanity becomes the testament to three phases in the life of such a calling.

We are introduced to the strangeness of how soldiers, out for blood, tolerate and facilitate the presence of these unarmored observers every step of the way through the hell of combat. Garland seems to tap into some unspoken ethos of universal credence among combatants that the history of it all must be seen and those who record it must survive to tell of it. It is never explained, merely displayed.

We are reminded that in a modern American civil war, rogue atrocity can roll through your city just as easy as it did for My Lai. If you think that in the fog of war we would maintain our civility and morality like gentlemen, think again. For every five patriots there might be one psychopath ready to fill ditches with the innocent dead executed under the jurisprudence of a few unhinged men with guns.

We have no idea why this war is being fought. Perhaps it is a just war. Perhaps it is a crazed secessionist rebellion. We aren't afforded such information. It would only get in the way of the vital message-war is hell and be careful when you tell your fellow American to go to hell for their political differences. What you end up with might be far darker and damning than you ever dreamed.

The genius of this film rests partially in an absurd alliance between California and Texas, two of the most opposite states in the Union. By joining this ideological odd couple, the story immunizes itself against accusations of partisanship or cultural favoritism. Yet it also beckons us to imagine what kind of national crisis could bring such opposites together.

This film will be awarded there is no doubt. Alex Garland has broken new ground and his script and actors and cinematography deserve all the awards they get.

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