EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|ESSENTIAL KILLING (director/writer: Jerzy Skolimowski, Jerzy; screenwriter: Ewa Piaskowska; cinematographer: Adam Sikora; editors: Réka Lemhényi/Maciej Pawlinski; music: Pawel Mykietyn; cast: Vincent Gallo (Mohammed), Emmanuelle Seigner (Margaret), Zach Cohen (American Contractor 1), Iftach Ofir (American Contractor 2), Cleve Broch (Nicolai), Frode Henriksen (Stig); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Skolimowski, Jerzy/Ewa Piaskowska; New VideoTribeca Film; 2010-Poland-in English/Polish/Arabic, with English subtitles when necessary)|
fresh approach keeps us on guard."
by Dennis Schwartz
Polish cult film-maker Jerzy
("Barrier"/Walkover"/"Deep End") is the
auteur of this thinking man's surreal action
film, that goes for long periods without
dialogue and tries to make us think of the
futility of war by depicting how ugly it
gets. Though that anti-war theme is a
familiar one in movie-land, Skolimowski's
fresh approach keeps us on guard and his
stark visual use of the landscape keeps
things interesting. The film's star, Vincent
Gallo, grunts a few times but never manages
to say a word during the entire movie.
cave in the remote dusty mountains of Afghanistan,
a US military operation is in progress to capture the
Taliban fighter who killed an American soldier to
obtain a rocket launcher. But before he can be
captured he fires that rocket launcher and kills two
crack-smoking asshole talkative American contractors
and a regular infantryman soldier tracking the
terrorist. A hovering helicopter soon locates the
terrorist Mohammed (Vincent Gallo) and
brings him down with a missile, and then brings the
injured and temporarily deafened killer combatant back
to the base for interrogation, harassment, a beating
and torture. When the terrorist is uncooperative, he's
transferred to a secret detention center in an unnamed
Northern European country. But the truck crashes and
goes over an embankment, and he's able to escape. On
the run, Mohammed uses his wits and
commits so-called essential killings to avoid capture
in the snowy woodlands by an unclassified army and its
dogs and dresses in the clothes of those he killed.
When bloodied and severely wounded, Mohammed's
taken in by a pretty deaf-mute woman
farmer (Emmanuelle Seigner,
the long-time girlfriend of the director's pal Roman
Polanski) and nursed back to health and fed before he
hard for an American audience to root for an Arab
terrorist, especially one who chain saws to death an
innocent logger, kills American soldiers and commits
other murders; and it's difficult not to question the
pic's forced agenda as being too iffy or even
laughably irrelevant. It's a war film that's
right on top of current events, therefore it's fair to
judge the pic not only for its execution values
but if it gives us a combatant whose humanity can be
respected. Instead it aims to show us human beings are
capable of doing any atrocity to survive.
The provocative violent black humored apolitical film is risky film-making, one that asks the viewer, in its own daring way, when does a combatant lose his humanity? Is it when he resorts to torture his enemy and/or when he kills innocent civilians for his own survival? The viewer must also endure a gross forced breastfeeding act depicted by the anti-hero on a poor farm girl.
REVIEWED ON 3/10/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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