Director: Philip Haas
Writer: Wendell Steavenson
Cinematographer: Sean bobbit
Starring: Connie Nielsen, Damian Lewis, Mildo Hamada
Studio/Run Time: Shadow Distribution, 106 mins.
With its webbed ensemble more easily remembered for its archetypes than its members’ names, Philip Haas’ The Situation presents a nuanced portrait of occupation-era Iraq. In fact, penned by war journalist (and ?rst-time screenwriter) Wendell Steavenson, the ?lm performs a miracle: It remains completely neutral. “It’s not a story! Everyday it happens!” says reporter Anna (Connie Nielsen) in response to one of the remarkably restrained waves of violence. Indeed, despite the numerous kidnappings, assassinations, rescues, and double-crossings that comprise the ?lm’s momentum, one never feels caught in a grand plot. If Steavenson’s dialogue is stiff, the performances aren’t. Even if they’re archetypes, the characters—especially walk-ons like taxi drivers and stray Iraqi policemen—feel authentic. But, noble as it may be, neutrality is only so compelling. Though perhaps not exciting to contemporary news readers, The Situation might prove valuable as a humane report of what it was probably really like.