War Story
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Mark Jackson

I’ve seen some really beautiful, underrated films in the NEXT category at Sundance: where most of the experimental films that only the most open and artsy minded audiences gravitate towards (which means less crowded theaters!). War Story was not one of them. I really don’t like giving films like this bad reviews, because when entertainment is shit, you’re pretty safe in calling it like it is—but when "art" makes you grimace, you’re much more likely to get called out for simply not "getting it," or not having the reaction that was "intended by the artist." Well, I’m calling this one out like I see it, and you can go ahead and call me an illiterate Philistine: bullshit. Usually I’d give you a short synopsis right about now in a review, but I don’t know what the fuck this movie was about. An hour in, I figured out the neurotic (borderline psychotic, really) lead character, Lee (Catherine Keener), was a war-time photographer whose friend was shot. I also know that she befriends a Middle Eastern girl who is pregnant and needs an abortion. Beyond that, I can only describe scenes that are never explained, that seemingly have no context, that frustrate and confuse, and result in very little connection and empathy for the characters and their stories. Before walking into the theater, I was told it was about a woman with PTSD—perhaps the filmmakers tapped into that experience so successfully that we as the audience aren’t meant to be entertained or enriched by the film, but rather transported to the same state of mind as the character. Though I normally thrive off poetic films, this one went over my head.