Triage (2009)

DANIS TANOVIC

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

Alternate titles:  Shell Shock, Eyes of War

Ireland/Spain/Belgium/France, 2009.  Parallel Film Productions, Asap Films, Freeform Spain, Tornasol Films, Aramid Entertainment Fund, , Euroimages Fund of the Council of Europe.  Screenplay by Danis Tanovic, based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , ,.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

 plays a war photographer who has spent almost two decades travelling the globe to disastrously conflicted places to do his work, heedless of the danger to himself. On most of his assignments he is accompanied by his best friend () and their latest sojourn is in war-torn Kurdistan, but Sives tires of the operation and, anxious to get back to his very pregnant wife () separates from Farrell. Days later, following a near-death experience, Farrell finds himself back in Dublin with his own wife () unable to explain why he is alone…or is he unwilling to tell the tale? His recovery from injuries sustained while on assignment grows progressively worse as his physicians realize that there is nothing wrong with him physically and that there is a psychological reason why he is not healing. Enter his wife’s grandfather (), a wise octogenarian psychiatrist who becomes Farrell’s opportunity to unburden himself of the horrors he has witnessed. Despite an excellent performance from the surprisingly skeletal lead (Farrell lost quite a bit of weight for the role), Denis Tanovic’s latest film is laden with the one negative quality that his Oscar-winning No Man’s Land didn’t have: gross sentimentality. Farrell is a sharp enough actor to keep it real the whole time, but the supporting players have no idea whether to stay focused or go full melodrama with the mawkish dialogue and contrived situations; Vega in particular is a colourless portrait given that her command of English is still weak. The plot is rich but it plays out like trite soap opera, with Lee’s Spanish joviality uncomfortably fitting into a very dour story. The opening scenes, with Farrell and as a Kurdish doctor, are the film’s best.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2009

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