In Our Name


Dir: Brian Welsh
Star: Joanne Froggatt, Mel Raido, Andrew Knott, Chloe Jayne Wilkinson

This worthy, if not entirely successful drama, chronicles the struggles of Suzy (Froggatt), a British soldier who has just returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East, and has difficulty returning to normal life. She seems to be suffering from a moderate case of post-traumatic stress disorder, and things aren't helped by the behaviour of her other half, Mark (Raido), also an ex-soldier, who grows increasingly paranoid as a result of Suzy's emotional distance, not realizing the cause. And her young daughter (Wilkinson) is similarly unable to connect with her mother, apparently feeling abandoned. As the couple struggle to come to terms with their situation, their relationship starts to fall apart, and an incident with an immigrant taxi-driver brings everything to a head: Suzy realizes that getting out may be the only solution. But where can she go?

There are some very solid performances here, and the backdrop proves that, yes, it is indeed grim up North; I suspect that Newcastle hasn't been depicted as so inhospitable, since the original Get Carter. However, the relatively inexperienced writer and feature director Welsh doesn't seem to know what to do with the characters, and after pushing them toward a confrontation, it almost feels as if he ran out of interest in the final reel, and just wandered off, leaving the script unfinished, with little or nothing resolved. While probably realistic - and that is certainly the movie's strong suit, with most of the content ringing true - it doesn't work very well as cinema. The title hints at the fact that we, as viewers, are responsible for the disintegrating psyches on view, but the truth is rather more complex: these weren't draftees or conscripts, and no-one forced them into the army. But it does put a disturbingly human and non-heroic face on those who fight for us, and even if the end result is a mixed bag, the effort is laudable.

C+
[June 2013]


War games
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