Movie Review: Lions for Lambs
Significant political movements or major wars generally have partisan supporters and detractors, either group being roundly condemned by the other, who believe they are on the 'right' side. Shades have never been as gray as today, though, in the global war on terror.
Is this a conflict of aggression by conservative medievalists wishing to roll back the tides of history or is it an attempt by an aggrandizing out-of-control superpower unable to manage the consequences of its well-meaning interventions?
Answers are not easy to come by, and the true believers are hard to distinguish on either side. The general public in most nations is taking the historically safe approach of wait-and-see, which might be appropriate from safeguarding one's own castle or way of life. But as President Bush said, taking sides is a "with us or against us" approach, and if this is truly a global paradigm shift, one or the other way of life will have to change, or perhaps already has.
Robert Redford prefers to take the approach of minimalistic realism in looking at the questions of the day, leaving the viewers to connect the dots, an activity that might have been easier for the average non-political viewer if he/she were provided a reading list ranging from Seymour Hersh to Noam Chomsky along with their movie tickets. This is no petty case of right and wrong, though. The strategy works to a point, yet in the end it is a lot of sound and a little fury, signifying no change.
The story interconnects a professor striving to inspire his students, a senator striving to get ahead, and a reporter who's seen it all, or thinks she has. Let's not forget the soldiers in the forgotten war who might have gone out of a sense of duty or because they were doing what so many of their social class do for much the same reasons - a steady job, a college ticket, the hope of getting away from a destructive environment. In the end, there's not much change, as the idealistic young man seduced by his professor's lure may find out, that in the midst of nihilism there is still a glimmer of hope, that perhaps this young man may stand fast, might "screw his courage to the sticking place."
The didactic nature of the film notwithstanding, it is a powerful film in many ways. A political call to arms, it may add to the general awareness of the populace, it might be the tipping point for change. Like others before it, however, the influence will linger not for long after the screen fades to black. This might be because for all its pontification, the film essentially goes nowhere, and it might be worth treasuring only for the intensity of the dialog between Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. Yet, there too, the intensity is broken by the futility of the "exclusive", it being turned instead into an anonymous news scroll.
Perhaps the film succeeds in proving its thesis, namely that the apathy of the populace allows the tides of history to be manipulated for partisan ends.
Movie Review: Lions for Lambs
- » Published on December 02, 2007
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