Using the topic of a soldier returning from war and having subsequent difficulty settling back into everyday life is a tough one, mainly because there isn’t that much scope for variety within the plot; soldier returns with mental scars, welcomed as a hero by some but shunned as a coward by others, people moaning that ‘he’s not the same person he was before’ etc. Without meaning to undermine the importance of depicting this ever-pertinent issue, the plot is fully unravelled before the film has even started. Resurrected is no exception to this rule.
Resurrected is about a young soldier, Kevin (David Thewlis), who returns from the Falklands war seven weeks after it ended, suffering from amnesia as to how he managed to lose his regiment. Clearly troubled by his experience, he is uneasy about being welcomed back to his small northern town as a hero back from the dead. On the other hand, his army regiment is suspicious of the circumstances under which he went missing, accusing him of cowardice and treating him with increasing hostility.
Resurrected is Paul Greengrass’ (of Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone fame) debut feature, and he works well with what is a fairly straightforward and unoriginal script. As with many British films depicting working-class life in the eighties, the film is visually bleak; even the scenes of patriotic celebration appear depressing, the jubilation of winning a war clouding over the reality of social problems such as unemployment and disaffected youth.
The occasional flashbacks to the war itself do a good job (within a clearly limited budget) of showing how the harrowing images of war have imprinted themselves in Kevin’s mind. Rather than commenting on the rights and wrongs of the Falklands conflict, Resurrected simply portrays the life-changing effect that war – any war – can have on a young mind, and it does this well.
Aside from Paul Greengrass, another great thing to have emerged from this movie is David Thewlis, for whom this film was undoubtedly a breakthrough in what has gone on to become a distinguished acting career. As with the director, Thewlis brings the most out of an ordinary script with a quietly tortured performance. For most of the film his character is shy and introverted, but a drunken rant in the latter part of the film unleashes all his restrained feelings, at the same time unleashing the talent of one of Britain’s greatest living actors.
Resurrected is a relatively short film that does not unnecessarily over-elaborate on the effects of war on a young mind. While the sombre conclusion could have been predicted from the start, you’d need a heart of stone not to be saddened by this uncensored depiction of lost youth – and lost life. At the same time, it’s easy to imagine that this film wouldn’t be getting a DVD release if its thin narrative wasn’t filled out by the burgeoning talents of Paul Greengrass and David Thewlis.
Best scene: Kevin’s drunken rant where he tellingly declares himself neither a hero nor a coward.
Best performance: David Thewlis makes the rest of the cast look amateur
Watch this if you liked: Coming Home, Full Metal Jacket