Monday, 5 May 2014

In Our Name (2010)

Last night saw the terrestrial television premiere on BBC2 of In Our Name, a film I was pleased to get a second viewing of thanks in no small part to the exceptionally heartfelt and involving central performance from Joanne Froggatt, an actress who has been steadily producing outstanding if somewhat understated work, largely in television, for more than a decade now. 

The film is written and directed by Brian Welsh (who most recently helmed an episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror) and takes its title from what the British army, under orders from parliament and Blair/Bush did 'in our name', and more specifically, what such actions do to those who perform them. As such, it is an intelligent exploration into PTSD upon a female soldier following a tour of duty in Iraq and how it effects her attempts to adjust to civilian/R+R life and the domestic relationship he has with both her husband, himself a squaddie, and her child. At times almost Loachian kitchen sink/political, In Our Name, with its quietly harrowing slowburn pace, easily grips the viewer as we come to see how far from perfect the married life between two soldiers is.

Froggatt's husband is played by Mel Raido, an actor who is regularly employed to portray psychopaths and hard nuts despite looking not unlike Norman Wisdom. No slight to him, he portrays them frighteningly well despite this likeness, and he's on particularly loathsome form here. We all know those couples who seem ill suited; the nice personable and pretty girl married to a boorish macho brute, well that is the central relationship of In Our Name to a tee. We view how the life of a professional soldier and, more specifically, the experience of war has damaged Froggatt's character, but we see how such experiences have shaped Raido and how his already ugly nature has thrived upon and grown with each distressing and violent exploit.

But the film's honours simply must go to Froggatt and rightly she was awarded for her performance her at the Independent Awards. It's just a small shame that the film doesn't really have a conclusion as such, it just....ends. A little bit more cohesive effort and structure in the film's later half to match the strong opener could have made this something truly special.

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