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Escape and Evasion - Film Review

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Published February 17th 2020
Only the dead see the end of war
escape and evasion film review 2020, community event, cinema, movie buffs, war movie, australian movie, actors, actresses, performing arts, rena owen, firass dirani, hugh sheridan, bonnie sveen, steve le marquand, storm ashwood, josh mcconville
Images Bronte Pictures

Seth (Josh McConville) is a lone survivor who returns home from a disastrous mission in war-ravaged Myanmar (Burma). The wages of war is paid for in severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). He has demons aplenty lurking within that manifest in the form of flashbacks that are threatening to destroy his present, and his relationship with his young daughter who lives with her mother.

In the midst of the battles within, one of the dead soldier's sister, a journalist, hounds Seth for the truth about the mission, what actually took place, and what happened to her brother. This propels Seth down the dual path of not being able to speak of his mission as commanded by his Major, and facing his ghosts one more time.

Written and directed by Storm Ashwood, the main characters are Josh McConville as Seth, and his men, Hugh Sheridan as Josh, Firass Dirani as Welshy, and Juwan Sykes as Stretch. Bonnie Sveen is Rebecca the sister and Journalist, Rena Owen is Major Michelle Pennyshaw, Jessi Robertson as Lizzy (the daughter) and Steve Le Marquand as Carl Boddi. This film tackles a subject that's rarely seen in Australian film.

Without a doubt, Josh McConville's performance as a hallucinating soldier with a fractured mind is game strong. He looks down the camera with a fierce commitment to his craft. His piercing look and commanding performance open to displaying vulnerability and the fallibilities of human judgement under pressure. As Seth, a man struggling to find solace, dealing with his inner struggles while trying to be a good father, McConville nails all the nuances in his fully-committed performance. Of note, child actor Jessi Robertson is quietly brilliant as the understanding young daughter who prompts her father to reality while at times fearful of his behaviour.

A brilliant actor can only work with the material he's given. For McConville's performance alone, this film is worth your time. However, this war drama is occasionally unrealistic, suffering perhaps from timing and editing issues. The journalist comes on hard, fast and strong like a bulldozer without a shred of understanding, too early. This performance detracts from the realism the film is attempting to spotlight.

There are more than a few scenes in the film that derails credibility, and you have to ask why. A Gandalf like character with long white hair suddenly appearing in the jungle, delivering dialogue in theatrical prose...why? If you love Aussie films, you're going to love supporting this movie, if only to see McConville's performance. There's only one small thing I can poke a hole in; and that is, he's not a linguist.

His Burmese is appalling and unintelligible gibberish. There is a slight saving grace in that of all the Burmese spoken (one young boy got his sentence right), there are a couple of words; just a couple, that would have been recognisable if not for incorrect pronunciation. However, as an aside, I do love the sound of a whirring helicopter in war films and the sound here does not disappoint.

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