It's funny how so many great movies can so easily fly under the
radar. Harrison's Flowers, a movie I had heard virtually
nothing about, proved not only to be excellent, but extremely
powerful and moving as well. Andie MacDowell stars as Sarah
Lloyd, the wife and co-worker to Harrison Lloyd (David
Strathairn), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. Harrison
reluctantly takes one last assignment in Yugoslavia to cover a
small "skirmish" in the area. When he comes up missing
and is presumed dead by the press and his editors, only Sarah
believes he is still alive. In an act of passion, she
courageously embarks on a trip to the war-ridden country to find
her husband and bring him back home.
At first this movie kind of sounds like a sappy love story, and
to a small extent it is. However, the sappiness is kept to a
minimum, and the action is startlingly realistic and horrifying.
When Sarah steps off of the plane and drives into the psychotic
war zone, she immediately enters into a world where there is no
mercy and no rules to abide by. What starts as a heroic rescue
mission, quickly becomes a horrific quest for survival.
What really surprised me were the performances by Andie MacDowell
and Adrein Brody. MacDowell, whom I generally do not like as an
actress, puts on a convincing and heartfelt performance worthy of
any big budget theatrical release. And Brody, who plays a
photojournalist working in Yugoslavia at the time, puts on a
stellar job. Where Harrison represents the top-of-the-heap of
award-winning photojournalists, Brody represents the other end of
the spectrum; the under appreciated, underpaid, and overworked
photojournalist. And he pulls it off wonderfully.
The camera work, direction, and pacing of this movie is just
about dead-on perfect. But the overwhelming highlight of this
movie is the frighteningly realistic battle scenes that makeup
the majority of this film. Based on real-life events that
occurred in Yugoslavia during the early 90's, the battle scenes
are loud, lively, and disturbing. Shameless images of
cold-blooded murder, or "ethnic cleansing" as it was
later titled, appear often. The expressions and lack of
compassion on the militant's faces come across as chillingly
accurate. This was a time all too reminiscent of the Holocaust,
yet on a much smaller scale.
All in all, Harrison's Flowers is a well-done movie that
invokes emotion and empathy for the main characters, and the
innocent victims of this senseless civil war in Yugoslavia. It is
well directed and well acted, and despite the complete absence of
any extras, represents a fine DVD to own.
Video: Harrison's Flowers is presented
in 2.35:1 widescreen. This is an excellent video transfer. The
picture is razor sharp, and virtually free of any compression
artifacts or digital noise. Colors are bright, and blacks appear
to be close to true black. The picture has a slight
"gloomy" feel to it, but that is how the film is
supposed to look. Overall a great transfer.
Audio: Harrison's Flowers offers you
the choice of both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio soundtrack.
Both offer amazing sound, to the point where you probably won't
notice one being better than the other. The rear surrounds get a
lot of use, especially in the abundant battle scenes. More than
once the viewer feels like they are right in the middle of a
chaotic civil war, with no perceivable chance of escape. There's
lots of bass and explosions to be had here. This is definitely an
amazing sounding DVD.
Extras: There are no real extras on this DVD.
Harrison's Flowers is a film that kind of slipped
through the cracks. Almost no one has heard of it, and that's a
shame because it really is a great movie. Many people will be
mislead into thinking it's a sappy love story, when in fact it's
a serious, sentimental action drama. The storyline is compelling,
the acting is great, and the action is horrifyingly realistic.
This is a powerful movie that makes a strong emotional impact. Highly