Monday, 29 December 2014

Unbroken (2014)

Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson
Written by: Ethan and Joel Coen (screenplay), Laura Hillenbrand (book)
Genre: Drama, biography, sport

Angelina Jolie’s second film working behind the camera tells the traumatic and truthful tale of Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic US athlete turned World War 2 hero after a bomber jet crashes into the Pacific ocean leaving officer Louie and two more survivors (Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock) stranded at sea for 47 days, until they become rescued, captured and tortured by the Japanese as slaves at a POW camp.

Despite the heavy 137 minute length, at no point during Unbroken does your attention drift. From the word go, this wartime feature is incredibly captivating, and this is due to a range of successful decisions made by Jolie herself. The casting in this movie could not be more brilliant, with rising star O’Connell demonstrating absolutely unbelievable talent that will not go unrecognised. It’s hard to imagine another actor in this role as he takes you on an emotional journey that so effectively captures the raw nature of human spirit. Additionally, acting from Takamasa Ishihara as Watanabe “the bird”, a Japanese sergeant with a particular hatred for Louie, is terrifying and realistically chilling. Smaller roles from Garrett Hedlund and Domhnall Gleeson are also unforgettable. Think what you want about Unbroken, but one thing that cannot be knocked is the extremely skilled cast whom carry this movie until the very end.

However, Unbroken soars in other areas too. The Oscar-winning Coen brothers deliver a gritty script with the capacity to help the audience really feel the pain that Louie felt, and beautiful cinematography from Roger Deakins makes the movie easy on the eye.

Of course, any wartime movie is going to be ridden with clichés and overdramatized scenes. Although Jolie definitely emphasises this with her slightly try-hard directing, these faults are not unbearable in any sense and can definitely be overlooked, if not unnoticed. Perhaps once again it is O’Connell’s entrancing performance that distracts the audience from anything other than the strength of Louie’s character, and the real traumas of World War 2.

Unbroken is a beautiful homage to the late Louie Zamperini and is a film that I would encourage people of all ages to see. With its poignant message and educational story which I am sure many people are unaware of (me included), it is a movie bound to teach, inspire and encourage, something I think is very important for cinema.