The Balkans burning
IF YOU were feeling mean, you could point out that this fascinating courtroom thriller – a rare cinematic attempt to address the Balkan atrocities of the 1990s – has to fall back on a great deal of expository dialogue and spoken editorialising. But there should be room for such things in the cinema.
Hans-Christian Schmid, director of the superb Requiem, forswears flash for an impressively sober dissection of one, partly fictionalised case. Maybe the result looks a little like a superior TV drama, but it is no less gripping or moving for that.
Kerry Fox stars as Hannah Maynard, a prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The picture begins with a witness to a massacre committing suicide after his evidence is discredited in the courtroom.
In her subsequent investigations, Hannah encounters the man’s sister (the superb Anamaria Marinca from 4 Months, 3Weeks and 2 Days) and realises that she can offer unshakable testimony that
should lead to the conviction of a particularly ruthless warlord. Eventually the woman is persuaded, but, as the trial looms, it becomes clear that the authorities are entertaining a plea bargain that will exclude her most damning evidence.
Featuring disciplined performances from all concerned, Storm (named for a 1995 operation by the Croatian forces) manages an enticing blend of cool analysis and emotional intensity. The film is sceptical about the processes of such tribunals, but cautiously hopeful about the impact one committed lawyer can make.
The most singular aspect of the film is, however, its depiction of the relevant EU directorate as a menacing amalgam of Smersh and the Illuminati. Eurocrats have never seemed so glamorously sinister.
Witness protection: Anamaria Marinca in Storm