2009 (General Release: August 2010 [USA] / September 2010 [UK])
Director: David Whitney
Starring: Shaun Dooley, Tatmain Ul Qulb, Dean Andrews
“Pfft. More Social Commentary On The Middle-East…” ….Think Again!
So, you hear the title ‘Kandahar Break’, and your mind is instantly drawn to preconceived comparisons to all the war films of recent years you have seen. Trying to artistically, and/or factually, portray the horrors of the middle-east that have occurred over the past decade. But don’t worry, you’re not the only one who did this. I did too, what else do you expect? With films like ‘Jarhead’, ‘The Hurt Locker’, and ‘The Green Zone’ all having their crack at taking an artistic stance on the current political situations masked with their own stories.
So why would you even bother to watch another one of these many types of films?
Perhaps, because unlike the others, there aren’t any gun-toting militia displaying vague humility and fighting for their country to highlight patriotism, entice us with script and visuals, and perhaps tell us how bad things are as well.
Kandahar Break, is in fact, a simple drama centered around love. But not your simple ‘Pride And Prejudice’, oh no, one enshrouded in corruption and intrigue. In fact, could you call it a love story? Perhaps not, a survival story perhaps? Culture clashes?
For what you initially perceive to be a standard ‘war film’, in fact comes at you with many a surprise. It’s very refreshing to see someone break away from archetypical expectations and use these settings for something a lot more interesting.
But in implying this film has a romance at its core, it shouldn’t be assumed that this film is a “date movie” or any such like. This actually has the potential to appeal to a variety of tastes. It is not without its social commentary, but that is to say the film is not focussed on it. These things happen in the background while something much more seemingly simple in terms of plot happens in front. It feels as if all the complex scenarios of the environment have been shoved aside. But this I see as an incredibly positive thing. This strengthens the emotional intent of the protagonist and allows you to open a window into perceiving his priorities.
Some of the acting can leave a little to be desired, though under the circumstances this isn’t such a deterrence. The story in fact is gripping enough to be able to allow you to set aside the very minor discrepancies in performance, at least on first viewing. Though with this being David Whitney’s debut feature, there is a lot to be commended for, as filming in Pakistan was not without its troubles. Some of the dangers shown on screen, in actuality, happened to the crew themselves. With four of the Pakistani crew members being wounded after being shot at by Taliban, the shoot had to be relocated to Tunisia to finish the film. Not only does this make the film an on-screen adventure, but a very real (and dangerous) one too.
After winning awards at Newport Film Festival (UK) for Best Film and Best Actor, as well as for Best Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival, it’s apparent that all this effort was not wasted. Though it doesn’t need to win awards to prove this. Despite small flaws in some performance, this an immensely impressive first feature from a new director, and shows tremendous potential for a future career.
A fantastic colour palette, original, superbly directed, well written and brilliantly executed. This is an 8 out of 10, a film not to be missed.