Brian De Palma, Implicating Us All in 'Redacted'

Patrick Carroll i i

hide captionPatrick Carroll plays the aptly named Reno Flake, one of two soldiers whose hair-trigger tempers set off the central tragedy in Redacted.

Magnolia Pictures
Patrick Carroll

Patrick Carroll plays the aptly named Reno Flake, one of two soldiers whose hair-trigger tempers set off the central tragedy in Redacted.

Magnolia Pictures

Brian de Palma is one of cinema's most hypnotic stylists, a virtuoso who can expand your perception of space, time and motion onscreen.

So when he throws away his jazzy technique and goes for rough-hewn and immediate — as in Redacted — it's a major statement.

Redacted — De Palma's fictionalized restaging of the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family by American soldiers — is in form a kind of furious charcoal sketch: an assemblage of fake documentary footage, much of it from soldiers' camcorders, with inserts of a French documentary (also fake) about the lives of Americans at a security checkpoint in Samarra.

Critics have called the movie crude and punishing. True enough. But it also does a harrowing job of depicting the psychological toll of the occupation on both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. And despite the presence of two American sociopaths, this is not an unsympathetic portrait; in fact its best scene makes the audience understand the corrosiveness of living all the time with looming threat.

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