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 drama about the war in Iraq probably won't have much appeal for most teens. Just as well, since it features mature themes, including the many mistakes (both intentional and unintentional) made by U.S. forces in Iraq. Violence includes explosions and shootings, plus U.S. troops treating two Iraqi youths badly (they toss them off a bridge). A couple has sex in a hotel room (brief scene, with just a little flesh visible); characters smoke cigarettes and drink. Lots of language, mostly "f--k."
What's the story?
The first U.S.-made film drama set during the Iraq war, THE SITUATION chronicles the tragic death of an Iraqi teenager at the hands of U.S. soldiers. The incident sets off an "investigation," a cover-up, and complications involving Iraqi mayor Sheikh Tahsin (Saïd Amadis), who has a complex relationship with the Americans. Enter American journalist Anna (Connie Nielsen), who hopes that letting Americans know what's happening in Iraq may have a positive effect. She seeks help on the bridge story from former Republican Guard officer/current insurgency leader Walid (Driss Roukh), her translator Bashar (Omar Berdouni), and cameraman Zaid (Mido Hamada). Anna becomes more immersed in the convoluted story, ignoring the warnings of her "sometimes" boyfriend, U.S. intelligence official Dan (Damian Lewis).
Is it any good?
Philip Haas' movie is smart and riveting, if sometimes soapy. It focuses not on U.S. troops' experiences, but rather on complex interactions between U.S. civilians and Iraqis, as well as among different groups of Iraqis. The film reveals wartime arrogance stemming from ignorance. The occupying forces don't or can't comprehend the damage they do daily, or more expansively. Even when they mean well, the occupiers can't see themselves. And when, at the very last, Anna does see herself through Zaid's camera lens, she can only be heartbroken.
The character of Anna is trapped in a stereotypical female role as The Situation slips into soapiness. She's the object of multiple lusts and affections -- and the damsel when Dan and company need one. She's caught in her own willful haze, and so, like the occupiers she can no longer abide, she doesn't see what she's doing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many complexities the film deals with. Is it possible to expose the truth when so many potential truths exist, depending on perspectives, belief systems, and levels of trust? How does Anna's pursuit of the truth reveal her own ignorance? How does Anna's loyalty to Rafeeq complicate her relationship with the American administration in Iraq? Is there a "right thing" for Anna to do? How does this movie compare to dramas about other wars? Is it more realistic? Why?
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