Judge Jason Panella swears he is not a zombie.
"This stupid, pointless war."
Paul Greengrass's directorial debut examines a soldier who is neither a hero nor a deserter.
Facts of the Case
After the end of the Falklands War in 1982, a small English community gathers to mourn the loss of one of their own: Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Kevin died a hero, as his family and friends are told in a modest church—he had volunteered as a stretcher bearer and saved another soldier's life. Naturally, Kevin's parents (Tom Bell, Prime Suspect, and Rita Tushingham, Being Julia) are still in the throes of grief, as is the young man's girlfriend Julie (Rudi Davis, The Object of Beauty).
As the minister at the funeral service reflects on the resurrection, a miracle seems to happen: Kevin is found wandering around the Falkland Islands, seemingly amnesiatic but alive. The days following the battle are a complete blank, and the military formally clears him of any charges of cowardice. But adjusting to life back in England isn't easy, for either Kevin or the people of his village. The young soldier keeps revisiting the horrors he witnessed right before his blackout. And his community seems to think it's easier to call someone a hero and move on after their death than to deal with the scars that person carries for a lifetime.
The feature debut of Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, United 93) is a remarkably confident film. The English filmmaker cut his teeth on TV documentaries early in his career, and he capitalizes on this experience with Resurrected. The film has a clear cinéma vérité style that gives the viewer documentary-like access to the story. And like many of his later films, Resurrected is based on true events—in this case, the film gives a fairly accurate account of what happened to Scots Guard Philip Williams after his time in the Falkland Islands.
Resurrected is a quiet film; aside from a handful of flashbacks to Kevin's experience in the fall of Stanley, most of the conflict in the movie is internal. The veteran struggles to find his place in his community after the war, a feat made more difficult by the fact that Kevin's neighbors had already begun to forget him by the time he came home. That Kevin has changed unnerves his friends and family—these people want the old Kevin back, and if they can't have that they don't want him at all. If you've seen any other "coming home" films, you won't find anything revelatory here.
It's to the credit of Greengrass and writer Martin Allen (whose only other credits seem to be several hundred episodes of the British soap Coronation Street) that Resurrected stands out. It's a level-headed movie—sure, there's some protest against Margaret Thatcher's government here, but it's supplemental to the character drama. The movie doesn't wallow in misery, either; there are some tender scenes between Kevin and the people who want to love him and give him time to adjust. These scenes balance out the emotional and physical cruelty the soldier experiences throughout the film. Thewlis carries this material wonderfully, especially since this is only his second film. The hollow expression he carries on his face is haunting, and the clumsy rage the actor brings to one of the film's pivotal scenes—where Kevin confronts his community—is amazing.
Twilight Time's release of Resurrected (Blu-ray) is limited to 3,000 copies. The 1.78:1/1080p widescreen transfer is good without necessarily standing out, but that's primarily because of the drab nature of the source material. Detail is quite sharp for both close-ups and medium shots, and there's a nice amount of nuance to the handful of colors on display. I didn't notice any noise or compression artifacts, either. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track is also good, for the most part—there's a nice touch in regard to background noise, and the track gets a lot of small sounds of the English countryside just right. The only thing that suffers is the dialogue, which often competes for space with the sparse score. I think this was because of how the source audio was recorded, though. What makes this especially tough is the lack of any subtitles, so there were a few spots where I had to rewind just to make out some bits of dialogue. For extras, there are nice interviews with both Paul Greengrass (17:46) and David Trewlis (15:56) that explore much of the film's background, plus an isolated score and sound effect audio track. And, as always, there's an excellent four-page essay from Twilight Time wiz Julie Kirgo.
Resurrected is a restrained and thoughtful movie about the emotional toll people have to pay after war. While it's not a vital film, it's still good, and Twilight Time's release passes muster.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Twilight Time
• Isolated Score
Review content copyright © 2014 Jason Panella; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.