Dave's Rating:

4.5

...the feel-bad movie of the season.

Who’s In It: The voices of Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag, Dror Harazi

The Basics: Filmmaker Ari Folman cannot remember anything about his involvement in the Israeli Army during the First Lebanon War of the 1980s. So he decides to go interview his old military friends about their memories of the same time and place. And its there that he's able to confront his own connection to a brutal massacre of Palestinians.

What’s The Deal: This is an almost-documentary that's also a work of animation. Meaning that the entire film (save for some horrifying documentary live-action footage at the end) is computer-drawn and animated. It's an interesting choice because, just like when you watch The Simpsons get away with stuff, both visually and thematically, that a live-action sitcom never could, an animated feature both allows you to experience shocking information in way that feels both softer (we think of animation, still, on some level, as a "cartoon" and cartoons aren't "real," after all) and more expressive (the opening dream sequence would come off as silly if it were simply re-enacted for a documentary crew. So definite points for originality.

On The Other Hand: You could also look at the animation as an impediment. It's a distancing device that's meant to also soften the blow, not just for the audience, but for the filmmaker himself. So you could argue that harsher, more uncomfortable reality might have been a better choice if what we're talking about here is getting to the mournful truth about war and "ethnic cleansing." Of course then we'd be talking about the hypothetical movie we want it to be instead of the movie it is.

What It All Means About Your Own Bad Memories: The whole film calls into question what people will or won't do under extreme stress and how they'll remember (or not remember) exactly what they want. Which sort of gives you more sympathy for all those memoirists everyone is lately, suddenly, wanting to vet for factual accuracy. Except for James Frey, of course, who just made up stuff.

Re-Redacted: If you saw that one and its real atrocity footage at the end, brace yourself for a similar, sickening jolt. You've been warned. It's the feel-bad movie of the season.

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