The Army of Crime
The Army of Crime joins a roster of recent European films exploring the continent’s wartime past from a fresh perspective. French realist Guédiguian takes us back to the days of the occupation, focusing on resistance fighters lead by Armenian Missak Manouchian (Abkarian) and consisting of Spanish and Eastern-European Jewish communists. As the son of an Armenian refugee, this is clearly a story close to the director’s heart. It’s a shame, then, that the drama never quite grips like it should: the characters, despite solid work from the cast, are lent little personality, with the constant shifts in focus draining any momentum; while the filmmaking drifts uneasily between sombre reverence and ripping yarn. Not that it’s bad: there are some powerful scenes (the glee of a sporting victory is cut painfully short; a “terrorist” is savagely tortured; Das Kapital proves explosive), but it’s a case of great story, not well told; a film you wish you’d liked more than you did.