Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Denmark/Indonesia/Finland/Norway/United Kingdom/Israel/France/USA/Germany/Netherlands, 2014. Anonymous, Final Cut for Real, Making Movies Oy, Participant Media, Piraya Film A/S, Spring Films. Cinematography by Lars Skree. Produced by Signe Byrge Sorensen. Music by Seri Banang, Mana Tahan. Film Editing by Nils Pagh Andersen. Academy Awards 2015. Boston Film Critics Awards 2015. Gotham Awards 2015. Independent Spirit Awards 2015. National Board of Review Awards 2015. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2014. Washington Film Critics Awards 2015.
The blazing effect of The Act Of Killing is developed further as director Joshua Oppenheimer goes deeper into his subject, this time centering on the experiences of one family that has been living under Indonesia’s military dictatorship since it overthrew the government in 1965. Adi Rukun lives with his aged parents and spends his days making a living selling glasses to the locals, his small clan haunted by the ghost of his brother who was executed before Adi was even born. Making his rounds at his trade, Rukun asks questions of his older customers about their memories of the days when death squads were killing citizens in high volume, their aim to rid the country of communists and their ideology fully supported by the American military. Rukun’s questioning takes him into the presence of a number of people who were directly involved in his brother’s death, culminating in a sit down discussion with the family of one key member of the crime who react in volatile and passionate ways to the information they are given about their relative’s past. It is an ironic coincidence that Rukun, whose career is to help others see clearly, is rejected when he forces people to not just discuss but look directly at their past. Deeper and more meditative than Oppenheimer’s first film, this is a moving and melancholy work that enriches the viewer with information as well as emotionally explosive confrontations that break you deep in your heart (I hope). Given that everyone involved is also risking life and limb to appear here, it’s also a politically vital film that is magnificent just for having been made.