Writer/ director Justin MacGregor based his script upon tales told within his family. Inevitably, therefore, the script feels episodic. The story is communicated verbally rather than through actions, which is unfortunate as the dialogue is very poor. A certain amount of exposition to set the scene has to be accepted but it makes for clunky conversations. Even when characters express their feelings or hopes in monologue they do so using stock phrases to the point of parody.
MacGregor’s direction is unimaginative and the scenes often static. Important points about the human cost of war and how wartime experiences can warp individuals are hammered home with a lack of subtlety.
The material limits the cast greatly amd Ganley narrates in a voice full of foreboding as if to ensure that we appreciate the suffering of the characters. Anthony Quinlan and Peter Hunt manage to bring some depth to their characters showing that decency can survive despite atrocious conditions.
There is no doubt that MacGregor has great respect for his source material or that the events described are horrifying. But a dull presentation mutes the impact of what should be a shattering experience.
- Dave Cunningham