Flags of our Fathers (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/12/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 132 mins

Impressively directed, superbly written and featuring strong performances, this is a compelling, thought-provoking and ultimately moving drama with a timely message.

What's it all about?
Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach play Doc Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes, the surviving members of the famous flag-raising photograph taken on Iwo Jima.

As soon as the photograph hits the newsstands, they're yanked off the beaches of Iwo Jima and put to work as marketing tools in order to sell war bonds back home. However, they're troubled by memories of their fellow soldiers and struggle to reconcile their so-called heroism with the brutal reality they've left behind.

The Good
Structurally, the film comprises of multiple flashbacks as we jump between the battles and flag-raising on Iwo Jima, the fund-raising scenes back home and some present-day scenes in which Doc's son interviews survivors for the book the film is based on.

Eastwood's direction is extremely impressive, particularly during the lengthy, visceral battle sequences. However, you sense that producer Steven Spielberg was never far from the set, given how closely the sequence resembles the similar scenes in Saving Private Ryan.

The Great
Phillippe and Bradford give reliable, solid performances, but Beach is excellent, convincingly conveying Ira's anger and confusion as he encounters racism back home. There's also terrific support from John Slattery (as smooth-talking press agent Bud Gerber) and from Jamie Bell, Robert Patrick and Barry Pepper as fellow soldiers. Fortunately, Paul Walker's not in it enough to make much of an impact.

Admittedly, the present day sections don't add very much but there are some powerful scenes here and the film delivers a timely and worthwhile message about the media's manipulation of public sentiment.

Worth seeing?
This is an engaging, frequently moving film that is almost certain to pick up an Oscar nomination or two. Hopefully the same can be said for Letters From Iwo Jima, Eastwood's eagerly-awaited companion piece from the Japanese point-of-view. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 13:49

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