Hell and Back Again

"Excellent"

Hell and Back Again Review


Like Restrepo and Armadillo, this intimate fly-on-the-wall doc uses first-rate filmmaking to take us right into combat. Bristling with youthful energy, it observes the difficulty of reconciling war with home life, which sometimes isn't easy to watch. But it's vitally important.

At the peak of the conflict in Afghanistan in summer 2009, a company of US marines are dropped into hostile territory to fight insurgents and shift the momentum in the war against the Taliban. "We are experts in the application of violence", their leader reminds them, "with a clear purpose and a clean conscience." The film follows 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris over several months in the field, then back to North Carolina. But incorporating his experiences and injury into life back home isn't easy.

Shot with clear-eyed intensity, the cameramen nestle right in with the soldiers as they manoeuvre for position and then engage in brutal gun battles. This approach sharply observes the raw emotions in the line of fire, as well as how they haunt veterans back at home. Structurally, the film flickers back and forth to mimic the jarring battlefield memories. Nathan talks about how the only way to get on with life at war is to accept the fact that you can die at any moment, so it's no surprise that he struggles to cope with the mundane details of a fast-food drive-up window.

Shot like a narrative feature, the film is packed with terrific scenes that are chilling simply because of the subtext. While no one can question the soldiers' motives, their methods are deeply troubling. One officer tells the Afghans that US forces are here to protect them for quite some time, only to be immediately asked to leave because they're making the area too dangerous for the children.

Back home, Nathan cuddles his pistol while his wife sorts out his medication.

Nathan longs to return to the frontline, but his injuries mean that he'll never walk without assistance. On heavy medication, his thoughts turn to violence and suicide, and filmmaker Dennis remains intimately close right through it all.

Clearly, no young man should have to deal with this kind of internal horror.

And Nathan's experiences in Afghanistan will be with him for the rest of his life, physically, mentally and emotionally.



Hell and Back Again

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 5th October 2011

Box Office USA: $37.5k

Distributed by: Docurama Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 27

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Danfung Dennis

Producer: Danfung Dennis, Martin Herring

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

Advertisement
The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.