Opening 25 Sep 2008
Some movies aren’t worth watching and this is one of them. Adjectives which spring to mind to describe it include slow, tedious and boring. These same adjectives also apply perhaps to the life of a terrorist in the days leading up to the atrocious act he, or in this case, she, is prepared to carry out. Considering the subject matter of this movie, it should be nerve wracking and full of tension instead of a drag. The director, Julia Loktev, comes from St. Petersburg and received an award at the 2006 Cannes film festival for fresh young talent in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs section., This would suggest that she is someone with a future in the cinema.
Making a movie about a terrorist and potential murderer unfortunately provides an element of importance, almost of glamour, which no terrorist deserves. In this one a nameless nineteen-year-old girl is preparing to carry out an act of unspeakable horror, but there are no clues as to why or to the organisation guiding her. All that we know is that she is American and that the three hooded men who put her through her paces are also American. The four of them meet two more terrorists when final adjustments to the plan are made. One of them is an Irish woman and the other is a man who communicates with her through sign language while muttering in English under his breath. Were they FBI agents investigating a plot? Were they testing a volunteer to see if she was dedicated to the Cause? Once everything is settled and to the master planners’ liking, we have to watch the nameless girl prepare to carry out her plan. This involves much washing of clothes and person, a close-up of teeth cleaning and a lot of fast food consumption. As she begins to carry out her plan, instead of a feeling of dread and a suffocating tension, you find yourself thinking, “Get on with it, blunder, get caught by the cops, let the movie end so we can all go home.” The only positive point I can make about this movie is that you can have a discussion afterwards with other bewildered viewers who perhaps can shed some light on it for you, if you want.
Note: Jenny Mather saw this at the FilmFest Hamburg 2006. Her colleagues who also saw it rated it as follows: Becky Tan ***, Karen Pecota *, Kara Wahn **1/2, Mary Wienke *** and Nancy Tilitz *** (Jenny Mather)