Friday, May 19, 2023

In the Rearview (2023) Cannes 2023

Director Maciek Hamela’s volunteer aid van travels across Ukraine transporting people to safety. It transports families, travelers and sick people the hundreds of miles from the fighting to safety in Poland.

Made up almost entirely of conversations with people traveling to safety in the van IN THE REAR VIEW is a moving film that throws the war into a new light by making it about life rather than just destruction. It is a film about the life that is actually being lived by the people on the ground not the tales that are on the news reports. For example, the film begins with the question "Besides the cow what did you leave behind?" this then spins out into a discussion of what was left behind, including the cow and life in Ukraine. Conversations go all over the place, to expected places and unexpected places including kids being annoyed with each other on the long trip. Outside of the conversation there are the images of a country at war. We see soldiers, ruined buildings and the things you'd expect in a country under attack. Sometimes the images are out the front window, mostly it's the view in the rear-view mirror with the war shooting by.

I really like this film a great deal. To me it's one of the best films on what is happening in Ukraine because we get to see more than just "war". For me the fact that the film is comprised of long sequences of people talking about is what makes the film. It gives us a feeling that what we are seeing is more or less a portrait of what is happening in the country sans varnish. Yes, there are visible cuts and time shifts, but it's kept to a minimum.  We get a sense of not only the people beyond being refugees, but also a sense of Ukraine itself.  It isn't just bombed out buildings or the images we see on the TV news but something more, something greater as we see different parts of the country. 

For the first time I felt like I was seeing something other than just the sexy TV parts.

This is great filmmaking. 


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