February 7, 2016 | Rome, Italy | Partly Cloudy 14°C
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Biopics

The Walk

Director Robert Zemeckis brings 3D to Philippe Petit's remarkable twin towers high-wire walk.

Comedy-Romantic Comedy

Results

Andrew Bujalski pokes gentle fun at fitness culture while doing romantic comedy a favor.

Mistress America

There's an unsavory side to Noah Baumbach's newest Greta Gerwig movie, and it hurts.

Drama

The End of the Tour

James Ponsoldt's dramatization of interview sessions between David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace is a gem.

Truth

A movie that purports to tell the truth about Rathergate can't escape the grinding of its own axe.

Room

Lenny Abrahamson coaxes a superb performance from Brie Larson in a terrifying story of abduction.

Third Person

The quest for deeper meaning leaves Paul Haggis' ambitious drama stewing in its own juice.

Horror

It Follows

There's a Scarlet Letter admonishment built into David Robert Mitchell's mysterious horror tale.

Spring

If you like the tourism-horror genre, don't miss out on the girl vampire in Puglia.

Science Fiction

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Disney takes over from George Lucas and makes a capable fantasy mostly bereft of thrills.




Date: 2007
Directed by: Robert Redford
Starring: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Peña

Lions for Lambs

It's understandable to make want to make an idealistic political "thriller" about the twin-pulls of duty to country and Iraq-tempered skepticism. But only a strong and coherent story, "Syriana"-style, can save such an undertaking from becoming that least appetizing of animals — the liberal Hollywood sermon. There's no saving director Robert Redford's cut-and-paste job about idealism gone awry. Start to finish, it's plagued with bad planning and hackneyed pitfalls — a bit like some war efforts.

He loosely ties together a California political science professor (Redford), a gung-ho U.S. senator with a new plan to "win" in Afghanistan (Tom Cruise), a skeptical reporter interviewing the senator (wasted Meryl Streep), and two of the professor's students who feel duty-bound to enlist and, of course, find themselves in hell-hole Afghanistan. The title, "lions for lambs," shortens (and waters down) a Battle of the Somme observation by a German officer about the folly of British soldiers being led to trench-warfare slaughter by unyielding generals, "Nowhere have I seen such Lions led by such Lambs." In essence, the lions are hopeful American boys and the lamb/donkeys the self-righteous leaders ill-equipped to manage them either militarily or politically.

The fractured, unthrilling narration skips back and forth between smooth senator, war scenes and anguished (Vietnam vet) professor. But the failure to decide just who and what are important at any given time dishonors the underlying message of hypocrisy abundant, good young men wasted and American idealism betrayed. It's an abnormally annoying outcome in the hands of Redford, whose worst films are usually more accomplished.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

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