8:00 PM, 21st April, 2001
'4 Cameras. No Edits. Real Time.' 'The first movie ever told in four dimensions.' 'A unique new cinema experience.'
Alex runs a small film-production company in L.A., but is becoming disillusioned with its direction and his life in general. The executives and staff want him to 'get it together' so they can get back to normal. His wife, Eve, feels distanced, and they are considering separation. His lover, Rosie, might just be using him, while her lover Lauren is so insanely jealous she contrives to spy on her. Confused? Yup, it's your conventional 'love-quadrangle-meets-mid-life-crisis-in-the-film-biz' story.
The screen is split into four((mdash))a sort of 'quadravision'. Shot in 'real-time' with four synchronised, hand-held cameras, it follows four different threads of the same story simultaneously. Each camera follows one of the four main characters through the film, along with diversions into (many) various subplots and minor characters. It's different, but not difficult to watch, and the sound mix is the key. The script was only an outline and all dialogue is improvised. Actors had timing points and a 'story destination' to work to, and did very well when you consider the logistics.
Whilst I'm sure the concept came first, director Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) has produced a successful film. It may not be the future direction of filmmaking, but experiments in form like this one remind us that there are many places yet to go.
9:47 PM, 21st April, 2001
A family of four, recently relocated from London, lives in a stark cottage, on a bleak hillside, in the rain. The father (Winstone) deals in antiques, the mother (Swinton) is pregnant with number three, and 15-year-old Tom and his older sister Jessie are as moody as adolescent siblings might usually be. Tom and Jessie are close, but Tom starts to see things that lead him to confront his sister about secrets that she is keeping from him. Dark Secrets. The Darkest. Yes, this is a film about incest.
But whilst similar stories have been done before, this film stands alone. Actor Tim Roth directs his first feature with real confidence. The film looks fantastic. Much is conveyed by a look. Silence says more than expansive dialogue, and the emotional power within each scene is immense. All the acting is excellent, with a truly standout performance from the stunning Laura Belmont as 18-year-old Jessie. Be in no doubt as to what type of film this is. Rated R not for what we actually see but for the intensity of its content, The War Zone is compelling. A strong and beautiful, yet dark and confronting film. This is brilliant but heavy-going stuff. You will leave feeling physically drenched and emotionally drained. But satisfied.