Restrepo

Film Review by Chris Buckle | 04 Oct 2010
  • Restrepo
Film title: Restrepo
Director: Tim Hetheringon, Sebastian Junger
Release date: 8 Oct 2010
Certificate: TBC

Considering the controversy surrounding last year’s Associated Press photograph of a dying US marine (deemed appalling by the disgusted and insightful by the agency), it’s a shock to see Restrepo’s cameras pick up and hold in sight a fallen American soldier. While upsetting, it is just one of Restrepo’s numerous brave inclusions, which together constitute fresh insight into the lives of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. The anguished tears shed by the deceased’s brothers in arms highlight something frequently missing from war documentaries; a genre all too often preoccupied with either celebrating machismo or demonising and deploring their subject (this despite co-director Sebastian Junger’s tendency towards a gung-ho, adrenalised style in his written work). These soldiers aren’t adverse to knuckleheaded cultural insensitivity, nor uncomfortably joyous violence; moreover, the film itself provides little space for the Afghan perspective. But Restrepo gazes unflinchingly on those at the heart of a contentious conflict and renders their experience viscerally and – most importantly – humanely.