One of the things we do frequently on Critics at Large is draw readers to good films that may have gone undervalued, or ignored. One such film, Triage, drew the attention of Susan Green in the way these abandoned movies often do. Quite by accident.
There is no comic relief in Triage, which probably renders its tragic tale more realistic but less commercial. People witnessing the world’s many barbaric conflicts on television may seek a little pacifist escapism in their entertainment choices or at least opt for make-believe action punctuated by jokey one-liners like “Hasta la vista, baby.” Tanovic adapted his screenplay from a 1999 debut novel by Scott Anderson, a writer all-too-familiar with mayhem after a quarter-century documenting intrigue, corruption and carnage in dangerous places. He based The Hunting Party (2007), starring Richard Gere, on his misadventure with fellow scribe Sebastian Junger: The two got involved in a crazy scheme to capture Radovan Karadzic, the Serbian war criminal, but it all fell apart when they were mistaken for CIA agents.
In Country: Colin Farrell and Jamie Sives
Everyone suspects a major attack is imminent, something Mark wants to hang around for so he can take even more newsworthy shots. David, whose wife Diane (Kelly Reilly) is eight-months pregnant back in Ireland, feels desperate to get the hell out of the Middle East right away. Whatever adrenaline fuels this line of work has been depleted in him; his desire now is to pursue a less perilous occupation, like fashion photography. With no means of transportation, he leaves on foot.
But, in the next scene, Mark wakes up on a cot with grave head injuries from shrapnel in an artillery explosion, the specifics of which remain unclear. Under the care of Talzani, luckily he’s not been given the dreaded blue paper that signals imminent euthanasia. They discuss the proverbial Sophie’s choice facing this physician on a daily basis. Djuric’s gravitas is well-suited to portraying a man of constant sorrow.
Coming Home: Colin Farrell and Paz Vega in “Triage”
|The legendary Christopher Lee in Triage|
Joaquin and Mark engage in a slow, subtle and beautifully acted pas de deux. Their introspective scenes, unfortunately, are then swept away with a rush of improbable situations to wrap up the proceedings in a tidy fashion. Real-world PSTD is much trickier to resolve, if resolution is ever even possible. The human condition does seem rather hopeless in these times. Danis Tanovic must understand this dilemma, given his years on the front-lines chronicling the brutal late 1990s Siege of Sarajevo with a camera. To paraphrase some of the brilliant dialogue he wrote for No Man’s Land: The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is that a pessimist thinks things can't be worse; an optimist knows they can.
- originally published on April 9, 2011 in Critics at Large.