THE WAR ZONE (DVD)

1 Stars
Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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I wish Tim Roth had suggested pistols at dawn instead of trying to out-harsh Gary Oldman’s “Nil by Mouth”, because the latter puts a neat bullet between War Zone’s candy-ass eyes. If we hadn’t been so often treated to the sight of actress Lara Belmont’s yummy breasts, erect nipples and so on I might have taken “The War Zone” more seriously as an inquiry into incest-abuse. As it stands, she lounges about naked, dresses hip and goes out on dates just like if she wasn’t being diddled by her father. Even the VIFF guidebook calls her “sultry” (which Funk & Wagnalls defines as “hot, moist, and still”); it then explains that Roth “discovered” her while shopping (shopping for what, one wonders… Hi, you’re interesting-looking, I’m a big star, would you like to be in my movie etc.) which begs the question: who was he seeking for the role of an abused daughter — the next hot “look?” And unlike, say, “The Boys of St. Vincent”, which spun a web of power and repressed sexuality in an orphanage, hinted at the horrors through the victim’s symptoms of trauma until finally they were revealed, then tackled a lifetime’s scars and the complexities of retribution, “The War Zone” pounds one incident on top of another to little dramatic impact.
The flashy sequence of a baby being born in the middle of a family car wreck, for instance, allows Roth to give all the characters band-aids and scratches on their faces, lending gritty street-cred, but otherwise wastes time better spent on weaving that web — this is the “superfluous action” resented by Dogma95. The details of the abuse are not shocking or even surprising since they’re the premise of the movie; the only possible point of watching 90 minutes of this is to humanize the events and draw us in with sympathy or complicity. “The War Zone” does neither. And the brother’s final act, though high-stakes in a pedestrian way, is neither typical, revealing, nor interesting. In fact, the ending is a cheap one compared to the agonizing, lifelong struggle which a real family would face in this situation. With such an intense subject, and helmed by such a renowned actor, “The War Zone” is disappointingly plot-driven — and a lame plot at that. Roth should be making Lego? movies.

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Posted on September 16, 2003 in Reviews by
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