(out of 5)
A family of Jewish brothers see their friends and neighbours being carted off by Nazis in World War II Russia and decide not to sit around and wait for the worst. Escaping into the woods, they soon find themselves joined by more friends and strangers, with news of the burgeoning makeshift community that they’ve made smack dab in the middle of Russian nowhere spreading and people escaping to their safety in droves. The new microcosm that is created is left to the leadership of two of the brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber) until the latter of the two leaves to join the partisan Russian army. Edward Zwick directs with his usual attention to glorious detail, filming battle scenes with gusto and verve, scoring and photographing everything beautifully; his screenplay, unfortunately, is an embarrassment, so anxious to be respectful of this undeniably incredible story of survival that it turns average citizens (which is why they’re so impressive in the first place) into overblown, overly articulate romantic heroes. “You saved my life today,” Craig’s girlfriend tells him. “No, you’ve saved mine,” he responds. By the time one of the forest denizens announces to Craig that “This is my forest wife!”, you realize you’ve discovered your generation’s “No more wire hangers!” A total waste of time.
Cinematography by Eduardo Serra
Music by James Newton Howard
Production Design by Dan Weil
Costume Design by Jenny Beavan
Film Editing by Steven Rosenblum