Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lions For Lambs

Movie Review : Lions for Lambs
Genre : Drama
Release : 2007
Rated : R
Cast: Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford
Director : Robert Redford
My rating : 7 out of 10

This movie has not generated any glowing reviews. I understand the complaints about being "wordy" or "not breaking any new grounds" etc. And while I do not think this is a great movie, I very much enjoyed it.

The movie has 3 streams. In one, an ambitious Republican senetor Jasper Irwing (Tom Cruise) is explaining a bold new strategy to win the war in Afghanistan to a famous veteran reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep). In second, 2 soldires who are in action based on this same strategy are fighting a dying battle in some snow capped mountains in Afghanistan. While in 3rd, a California professor of political science Malley (Robert Redford) is trying to convince a talented by cynical student Todd Hayes to not waste his potential.

All 3 streams are happening simultaneously and are interleaved in the presentation. Of course all 3 are connected and although there is no suspense as to how, I won't give away that part.

Let's start with the bad news. The stream that deals with the battle in Afghanistan is not very convincing. The action sequences are definitely not a strong point for director Robert Redford. The choice for the patriotic protagonists willing to die for their country and also for each other is ... yes, people from 2 different minority backgrounds. Hmmm, this kind of playing it safe really diminishes the sincerity of the movie's message. Especially, for a movie that does not shy away from expressing its strong political bias.

Now the good news. The 2 other streams are very well written and extremely well acted. The casting is near perfect. The main strength is definitely in the dialogues. Candid, hard hitting and quite able to define the characters for us. The battle of wits between the professor and the student, is as close to a philosophical debate in the Greek tradition as you can get in a main stream movie. On the other hand the discussion between the senator and the journalist is often indirect, manipulative and is more about reading between the lines. The not-so-subtle hints, the euphemisms and the spin is quite contemporary and easy to relate to. These 2 interactions made the movie worth seeing for me.

The movie has strong political bias, and a viewer's opinion of the movie will very likely be influenced by his or her political affiliations.

I am hesitant to recommend this movie wholeheartedly to anyone. Unless you enjoy debates, and if you do, then you can definitely give this a try.

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