A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mature Iraq war drama definitely isn't for kids. Based on a true story, it deals with violent acts like rape and murder (including the shooting of a pregnant woman) and shows U.S. soldiers' boredom, fear, and tensions. The closing images of real Iraqi civilian corpses and mourners are especially difficult. Weapons include guns, grenades, and IEDs; other scenes show drinking, the effects of drugs, and cigarette smoking. Not surprisingly given the war-zone setting, language is strong and constant, with more than 100 uses of "f--k" and lots of racist and misogynist slurs.
What's the story?
Welcome to the oven, says Pfc. Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz) in voice-over narration accompanying his own video. "A.k.a. Camp Carolina, our home away from home in this godforsaken country." He notes the stench, films the barracks, and calls to his buddies to smile as he turns the camera on them. His Iraq "war diary," he says, will be his ticket into film school back in the States. At the start of REDACTED, Izzy's footage is all about his fellow troops, their complaints and arguments, their naïvete and arrogance. They've all seen this movie before and respond with suspicion: Bookish Gabe (Kel O'Neill) protests the filming ("If you have a camera, you're part of the media, and we're under strict orders not to talk to the media"), while moralistic McCoy (Rob Devaney) pulls out his own camera, proclaiming that "The first casualty of this entire conflict, it's gonna be the truth." With these brief exchanges, the primary argument of Brian De Palma's movie is clear. He's not just saying that the war is bad, based on lies, or turning young troops into confused victims or traumatized killers. No, his message is that the media have lost any semblance of integrity in their reporting. And if that story isn't precisely news, De Palma's version does arrive in theaters preceded by recent debates over the very possibilities of telling the truth during wartime.
Is it any good?
Redacted is hampered by awkward acting and obvious point-making. Still, the final sequence -- photos of actual bodies, titled "Collateral Damage" -- is stunning, whether you see the studio's "redacted" (faces-blurred) version or the director's edit, with faces clear. In the end, death is its own truth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie uses different types of imagery to suggest the chaos of the war zone. How effective is this strategy? What are the different types of media used? Do some have more impact than others? Why? Families can also discuss what the film is saying about U.S. troops and their training. Are there any heroes in this movie?
- In theaters: November 16, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: February 19, 2008
- Cast: Izzy Diaz, Patrick Carroll, Rob Devaney
- Director: Brian De Palma
- Studio: Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong disturbing violent content including a rape, pervasive language, and some sexual references.
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