One of the greatest cinematic travesties of 2013 was the ‘blink and you’ll miss her’ casting of Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Capote) in Captain Phillips. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an exceptional movie – but you don’t put Catherine Keener in your film just to relegate her to one speaking scene, and an action shot of her running down some stairs. It’s a shameful waste of one of our most talented actresses. But, fret not. Almost by way of compensation, we have a trailer for War Story, in which Keener seems to own the screen in an honest-to-goodness leading role.
Keener also produces the film, which is the second directorial effort of Mark Jackson – after his 2011 debut, Without. The script, which Jackson also penned with Kristin Gore (Futurama), centres on Lee (Keener) – a war photographer in the midst of a period of self-exile in Sicily, dealing with the aftermath of an initially undisclosed traumatic experience in a war zone. As her situation and experience unfolds, she crosses paths with a young immigrant from Tunisia (Hafsia Herzi), who is struggling with some substantial aftermath of her own. Recognizing her from the time around her own trauma, Lee attempts to connect with her to help them both heal.
The trailer itself is intriguing. With impressive support from Ben Kingsley, Keener appears to be playing her role tightly wound and locked down, while simultaneously giving her the air of a gaping emotional and psychological laceration. As the preview gathers pace, we are given the impression that something much bigger, and far more disturbing is at play in the lives of Lee and Hafsia – though we are never told too much. The directorial style is almost voyeuristic, with camera angles creating the sense that we are watching Lee – a choice on Jackson’s part that bolsters her character, for ultimately, she is simply a woman trying to get out of her own head – since it is no longer a pleasant place to be.
Having caused a positive stir on the festival circuit, War Story comes to VOD and cinemas on July 30. You can watch the trailer below.
Source: The Film Stage