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This British drama about a soldier accused of desertion is quite an ambitious first feature for director Paul Greengrass, best known for shooting The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and the recent Captain Phillips. The film is based on a true story and set in 1982 at the end of the Falklands War, when a small-town soldier, thought killed in combat, returns home after spending 48 days lost on the Falkland islands. At once a harrowing look at life in the military and a personal family melodrama, Resurrected examines a man who is neither a traitor to his country nor the convenient hero described at his funeral. Greengrass has admitted some of the themes are a bit heavy handed, but Resurrected is an accomplished film, particularly as a director's first.
An English village gathers to mourn Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis), who died carrying a fellow soldier to safety. Shortly after, Kevin stumbles onto a Falklands farm, where the owners provide food and shelter until the Scots Guards comes to retrieve him. Kevin's family meets his return with exuberant shock, but the tide soon turns when a local newspaper asks whether the young soldier might be a deserter. The resurrected spends his first days at home getting reacquainted with his parents (Tom Bell and Rita Tushingham), who speak in hushed tones about the army's neglectful treatment of their son, and girlfriend (Rudi Davies), who remains emotionally distant after writing off Kevin to cope with the pain of his supposed death. When Kevin returns to his barracks, fellow soldiers cast cold, accusing glances in his direction, and a faction led by Slaven (Christopher Fulford) begins tormenting him for deserting.
The film tackles the harsh effects of post-traumatic stress on soldiers back from combat, something that causes Kevin's former friends to turn on him despite his repeated assertions that it was amnesia that kept him stumbling about the countryside. Kevin is not exactly a hero, just a soldier doing his job, but he is certainly undeserving of the cruel abuse he receives. Kevin and his buddies in arms all suffer from guilt, shame, pride and fear over their roles in the war, and Resurrected surmises that this uncertainly leads them to mask perceived weakness with cruelty. For its part, the guard sweeps the affair under the rug, quickly absolving Kevin of wrongdoing before throwing him to the wolves without actually clearing his name in the public eye.
Greengrass creates a thoughtful, involving drama here, though Resurrected does have relatively one-dimensional antagonists. There are a few soldiers sympathetic to Kevin's situation, but none steps up to defend him. The climatic torture of Kevin is primal and shocking, and reveals a group of men acting outside themselves. I cannot claim to know the effects of combat on a man, but Resurrected paints a stark picture. This bleak storytelling and straightforward filmmaking represents Greengrass before his kinetic, steady cam-heavy action pictures, and I think the director should bring back a bit of this style in his upcoming projects.
The 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is reasonably impressive for a 25-year-old-film of modest origins. Sharpness is quite good, and the image reveals intimate fine-object detail and clear deep-focus shots. The color scheme and setting are drab and full of grays, greens and browns, but the transfer handles color saturation well. Skin tones are accurate, black levels are good and the grain appears natural. There are a few light print defects and some banding, but nothing terrible.
The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is crisp and unfussy, with reasonable depth and good clarity. Ambient effects are given decent separation from the dialogue and score, and I noticed no hiss or feedback.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Twilight Time releases Resurrected on Blu-ray as part of its "Limited Edition Series," and only 3,000 copies were created. The standard Blu-ray case houses a multi-page booklet with an essay and photos. Extras include an Isolated Score track, presented in 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as two featurettes: Paul Greengrass on Resurrected (17:46/SD) and David Thewlis on Resurrected (15:56/SD), both of which provide nice insight on the film.
This is quite an impressive first feature for Paul Greengrass, best know for his Bourne films. The film takes place in Britain in 1982, when a young soldier thought lost in combat returns from the Falklands War to accusations that he is a deserter. Twilight Time's Blu-ray features solid picture and sound and a couple of supplements. Recommended.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.