Parents' Guide to

The Act of Killing

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Indonesian genocide docu has simulated violence, language.

Movie NR 2014 117 minutes
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Constantly blurring the line between fact and fiction, this film won critical plaudits and an Oscar nomination or its grim retelling of a dark episode in Indonesian history. Essentially a war crimes trial in reverse, The Act of Killing's decision to give a platform to unrepentant mass murderers to re-enact their killings will likely divide viewers based on whether they find these stylized "scenes" compelling or pointless.

Its central figures, Anwar Congo and Herman Koto, embody the banality of evil as they repeatedly discuss the same atrocious acts over and over again. Maybe this is a comment by the directors about how something stops being shocking if we are exposed to it enough, but as a cinematic spectacle it makes for a documentary that occasionally piques the interest but is often quite tedious. Viewers will decide for themselves whether its climax is revelatory or just another stage managed set piece in a movie that seems content to exist in the moment of the spectacle it's created.

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