Bil’s rating (out of 5):    BBB.

Canadian cinema enters the realm of the battle epic with this beautifully photographed World War I drama.  , inspired by the stories of his own grandfather, plays a soldier returned from battle to Calgary who falls in love with a morphine-addicted nurse (). When the patriotic fervour surrounding them gets her asthmatic brother conscripted into the army, Gross’s sense of responsibility to Dhavernas finds him following the young man all way to the titular battle in Belgium, one of history’s most devastating for Canadian soldiers. Painstaking recreations of combat rival some of the best you’ve ever seen, and are probably responsible for the film’s being the highest budgeted in the country (at a rough $20 million or so). Unfortunately, the rest of the film beyond the war sequences doesn’t add up to much.  Gross, who also wrote and directed, worked on the screenplay for a number of years and it doesn’t show: his dialogue is bland, the characters never leap off the screen and many of the period details ring false. Still there are great performances in smaller roles from and .

Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, Damberger Film & Cattle Co., Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films

Canada, 2008

Directed by

Screenplay by Paul Gross

Cinematography by

Produced by Francis Damberger, Niv Fichman, Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa

Music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Production Design by Carol Spier

Costume Design by Wendy Partridge

Film Editing by David Wharnsby

Toronto International Film Festival 2008


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