Redacted | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Brian De Palma's drama, a faux documentary about U.S. military misconduct in Iraq, sounds more interesting than it is.

Through a collection of "acquired footage" -- from a French documentary, soldiers' personal cameras, security cameras, an Arab TV news team and Web sites -- we piece together what precipitated a terrible event: the rape and murder of an Iraqi teen-ager by U.S. soldiers, and its subsequent cover-up. De Palma, who also scripted, casts his condemnation wide with little subtlety; plenty will process Redacted as a smear against all U.S. troops. But the contrived style, the amateurish acting and the film's didactic tone combine to make the work feel like someone's first film -- emotionally overheated, too enamored of its visual gimmicks and loaded with sloganeering. (One character actually opines: "Truth is the first casualty of war," in case you missed any earlier hammer blows to the head.) Despite a pair of intentionally shocking scenes -- besides the rape, there's a beheading -- the film is tedious; we're stuck with a cast who are little more than yammering caricatures. Mostly I wondered: Why make a fake documentary about Iraq's messy state, rooted in such an extraordinary experience, only to present it in such a one-sided fashion? There's already a slew of well-done and provocative docs out there. And by front-loading his outrage in such an artificial, media-centric manner, De Palma falls prey to the very issue he's critiquing -- that our media is restricting what we see of Iraq in order to create monolithic opinion. In English, and some French, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Dec. 7. Squirrel Hill

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
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Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith