The fight of his life


Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

Di­rec­tor: An­gelina Jolie ( In the Land of Blood and Honey)

Star­ring: Jack O’Con­nell, Taka­masa Ishi­hara, Domh­nall Glee­son, Finn Wat­trock

Ver­dict: He can’t run, he can’t hide, but can he en­dure?

ADAPTED from the 2010 best­selling book by Se­abis­cuit au­thor Laura Hil­len­brand, Un­bro­ken is a de­mand­ing true story of sur­vival set pri­mar­ily in the later years of World War II.

As the film be­gins, it is 1943, and Amer­i­can ar­tillery loader Louis Zam­perini ( Jack O’Con­nell) is inside a B- 24 bomber un­der heavy fire from Ja­panese Zero fight­ers high over the Pa­cific.

This grip­ping se­quence – ex­pertly shot by ace cin­e­matog­ra­pher Roger Deakins – im­me­di­ately cap­tures a stoic re­silience un­der ex­treme duress in Zam­perini that will be cru­cial in the years to follow.

At the height of the tu­mult, di­rec­tor An­gelina Jolie cuts to Zam­perini’s ear­lier life, where he rose to fame as an ac­com­plished dis­tance run­ner who rep­re­sented his coun­try with dis­tinc­tion at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Though this de­cep­tively placid se­quence of scenes is at odds with what will tran­spire in the rest of the film – and sac­ri­fices much of the dra­matic mo­men­tum al­ready earned – it does add some nec­es­sary depth to our un­der­stand­ing of Zam­perini which will prove most use­ful later on.

Upon re­turn­ing to the skir­mish in the Pa­cific, Zam­perini’s plane crashes into the sea, leav­ing only three sur­vivors. The trio push on in an open life raft for a fur­ther month, en­dur­ing sev­eral dev­as­tat­ing life- and- death sit­u­a­tions be­fore an in­evitable cap­ture by the Ja­panese.

Once re­lo­cated to a POW camp, it is not long be­fore Zam­perini be­comes the dan­ger­ous fix­a­tion of camp sergeant Mut­suhiro Watan­abe ( played by Ja­panese pop singer Taka­masa Ishi­hara).

Known to in­mates as ‘ The Bird’, Watan­abe is a proudly sadis­tic over­seer who is aware of Zam­perini’s past as a dec­o­rated ath­lete, and makes it his mis­sion to break the will of his celebrity charge.

The re­lent­less bru­tal­ity de­picted in this fi­nal sec­tion of Un­bro­ken could prove to be too much for some view­ers. On this level, the film shares much in common with 2013’ s Aus­tralian- pro­duced The Rail­way Man.

Luck­ily, Jolie’s acute sen­si­tiv­ity to the or­deal suf­fered by Zam­perini and his fel­low pris­on­ers iso­lates an in­domitable spirit that car­ries ( and when needs be, com­forts) her au­di­ence through some very tough go­ing.

If there is one flaw to Un­bro­ken, it is that the 135- minute run­ning time is too gen­er­ous con­sid­er­ing the rel­a­tively straight­for­ward na­ture of the script ( co- writ­ten by the Coen Brothers), so im­pa­tient view­ers be­ware.

Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas ( East­lands only) and the State Cin­ema

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