Throughout the next couple of weeks, we here at MultiMediaMouth are going to review movies from this year’s festival leading up to its beginning on the 13th of October. To begin things off, Eoin Mason reviews a directorial debut of someone who many are already calling a rising talent in British Cinema covering a subject that, whilst not covered enough in the media, is put on full focus in In Our Name.
I came out of In Our Name not really sure how I was going to begin the review. It’s hard to go into this movie and not think about the wars in the Middle East and the war on Terror that has polarized British opinion nor can you go in without thinking about those that got us involved in this war in the first place nor of the film’s fundamental point about the effects a tour of duty can have on the men and women of our armed forces.
Some of this can be saved for places that specialize in these subjects to go deeper into them but the only thing I feel is important to mention to you, the one reading this review, is that by the time festival season is done, I hope people give a push to not just In Our Name but debuting writer/director Brian Welsh.
The film revolves around Suzy, a young mother of one who returns from a 14 month tour of Iraq and comes home to her husband Mark, a member of the armed forces himself, and daughter Cass, who barely wants to see her mother as the film begins. As she begins to settle back into normal life, she finds her demeanor changing to one of an overprotective paranoid nature with Cass reminding her of something that happened during her time in Iraq that has affected how she comes across to her friends and family.
It never is afraid to showcase in the most realistic of terms of the trauma and aftershocks of coming back from war torn countries with haunting memories but also the effects that self doubt and loathing have on the family at large but that’s what makes it so captivating to watch. You find yourself thinking and waiting for it to be resolved but, like them, there is never an easy solution to such a deep rooted problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It is amazing how actress Joanne Froggatt, who viewers may recognize as Zoe from Coronation Street as well as a string of TV roles, including ITV’s Downton Abbey, is able to put across such emotion and presence in her leading role. She emotes the feeling of seeing herself and her life gradually fall apart is something you are able to grasp on and see in her eyes, her movement and the rise of her paranoid, irrational behavior that leads to the film’s climax. Mel Raido’s performance as Mark is one that gets more open as the movie goes, with the directions the plot goes in terms of revealing his true personality and evolves into something sinister yet understandable considering what he also went through in his time in the Middle East. The only problem I got with his character was how it concluded and especially what he went through at the beginning, kind of has an unrealistic tone about how it was set up but Raido’s performance is still something that suits the film’s highly awkward but thought provoking tone.
Back in March on MMM: Almost Live, I gave much praise to Katherine Bigelow for getting the male psyche and bonding of relations that happened during her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker and how much understanding and realism it brought to the movie. The same, and reverse, can be said about Brian Welsh’s understanding of a mother trying to readjust to her surroundings after the trauma she has experience and falling into a trap of being too overprotective of Cass in the part and almost treating it like a mission and not a case of being a caring mother, making rash decisions that effect the lives of everyone involved. It makes the finale even more heartbreaking when the final pieces are set.
What should also be praised is the films use of imagery and metaphorical incidents to show not just the paranoia but to make just comparisons to the war torn streets of Baghdad and Basra. The abandoned council estates and closed down shopping districts of Northern England make a distinct comparison to the ones that have been shown on our news broadcasts for the years of the war and the people it has affected. The way noise of either arcade machines, fireworks and other noises help to fuel the trauma had by our protagonist as well as make the audience feel how she is going through readjusting to an environment not filled with as much suffering as she witnessed in Iraq.
In Our Name is hard hitting and very uncomfortable viewing from the offset and is never afraid to show you the full effects and consequences for actions taken throughout the progress. Whilst its conclusion does leave a bit too much to the imagination and feels a tad bit unrealistic, the intention of Welsh shines through and it would be very foolish to say that he won’t get better and better after the first of, hopefully, many more films.
The film is screened at this year’s festival on the 15th and 17th of October with the former being fully booked. The latter can be booked here. It comes out to general release on the 10th of December.