Monday, 28 March 2011

film review: essential killing

After being detained as an enemy combatant, Taliban fighter Mohammed (Vincent Gallo) is fortuitously freed mid-rendition, forcing the escapee to endure the inhospitably alien wilds of rural Poland. If you’re averse to political preaching, fear not: geopolitics acts as little more than window dressing in Jerzy Skolimowski’s wilfully enigmatic but structurally-familiar drama. Essential Killing is effectively Homeward Bound with plucky pets and jovial hijinks replaced by a beardy Gallo and existential despair; a wilderness drama uninterested in wagging fingers at Bush’s terror war or the Taliban insurgency, driven by a mute protagonist whose actions are born of desperation rather than ideology. Gallo – so frequently a liability – is the film’s strongest asset: willing to go to trademark extremes (add 'breastfeeding from an unconscious woman' to his list of onscreen depravity), yet otherwise carefully cryptic. The oblique tone may itself constitute an endurance test for those craving polemical engagement, but for the patient, Mohammed’s twin journeys (both geographical and metaphysical) prove magnetic.

Out Friday

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