Thursday, October 29, 2009

STORM: Kerry Fox & Anamaria Marinca shine in Hans-Christian Schmid's smart film

The movie for me that first put The Hague's International Crimi-
nal Court on the map was The Reckoning, a documentary that opened the Human Rights Watch Inter-
national Film Fes-
tival, put on by the FSLC this past sum-
mer. That was an excellent film, given its -- and the court's -- limitations but I must confess that the new movie STORM by Hans-Christian Schmid (shown below) strikes me as the more interesting and inclusive, not to mention memorable, of the two films in terms of how it treats this important and necessary tool for the securing of criminal justice on an international level.

Although Storm is a narrative tale, Schmid's film has its own docu-
mentary look and feel that work wonders in commanding our atten-
tion and helping us believe in the veracity of what we're witnessing. Schmid has filled his film with smart detail: how the Court works (or doesn't -- both from the public and personal angles), how carefully it must build its cases, and how easily things can and do fall apart. As both director and co-writer (with Bernd Lange), he threads his story near-seamlessly with facts, figures and events that enable the adult viewer who has followed recent history (back into the 90s, at least) to also follow the film's many twists and turns.

The trial under consideration concerns the prosecution of a former Yugoslav National Army commander accused of deporting and later overseeing the killing of Bosnian-Muslim civilians. During the course of the investigation, the chief prosecutor's attention is turned from murder onto rape, and this appears to jigger the Court's procee-
dings something fierce. There's a definite feminist slant to the movie -- from the terrific performances of its two female stars to the relationships that the female prosecutor has with her boyfriend and her boss, and especially the suggestion that the mostly male top tier of the court would rather not concern itself with mere rape.

Those two stars, by the way, are the wonderful Kerry Fox (shown two photos above, and above right, from An Angel at My Table, Shallow Grave, Intimacy) who commands the movie via her strength and honesty, and the versatile Anamaria Marinca (below, left, from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and the recent and terrific Five Minutes of Heaven), whom you be barely recognize from movie to movie. The fine supporting cast includes Stephen Dillane (above left), Rolf Lassgård, Alexander Fehling and a good newcomer Steven Scaharf (below, right). But it's Schmid's film, finally, and a more searing, anger-making movie you're not likely to sit through these days. Spoiler ahead: I might question the finale in terms of believability, but so desperately do we need something to hang on to by this point, that I must say, I welcomed it.

TrustMovies hopes to have an interview with the writer/director; if it happens, it'll be posted within the next few days. Meanwhile, see Storm, which opens tomorrow, Friday, October 30, courtesy of that priceless source of international cinema, Film Movement -- in New York City at two theaters: the Lincoln Plaza and the Quad. Check the complete list of national playdates for fall and early winter here.

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