Directed by Paul Greengrass.
Starring David Thewlis, Tom Bell and Rita Tushingham.
A British soldier is presumed dead during battle in the Falklands, but when he is found alive suffering from exhaustion and amnesia he is accused of desertion, leading to a hate campaign that spirals out of control.
Director Paul Greengrass is best known for making the frenetic and bruising style of the Bourne movies his own. But his 1989 feature film debut, based on the true story of a Falklands soldier returning from the dead, is a world away from the all action thrillers starring A-Lister Matt Damon he helms these days. It begins in a very British village church and comes complete with the trappings of northern rural life, from family drama to pints down the pub.
The intrigue of Resurrected rests on the fact that we are never quite sure whether its protagonist, Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis), deserted his regiment during the final battle of the 1982 conflict with Argentina. At the beginning of the film his story sounds suspicious and the army give him a grilling. But Kevin is then rapidly whisked home to a jubilant childhood community and family. The tabloids swing between hailing him a hero and cruelly insinuating cowardice. When Kevin returns to barracks his fellow soldiers are encouraged to torment him by telly veteran Christopher Fulford’s Slaven, who is concealing his own demons and flashbacks. Kevin’s girlfriend struggles to deal with his changed personality.
This is a touching film with warm as well as tense and menacing moments. Kevin’s parents are capably played by Tom Bell and Rita Tushingham, and I found the scenes with his younger brother, who likes to play with guns and remain fiercely loyal to his role model, especially poignant. It skims over some big themes like institutionalised bullying, love and loss. Most of all it does a good job of subtly portraying the horrific uncertainty of war and the further agony of being an outcast from the home you spent so long craving.
The best reasons to get hold of the DVD of Resurrected though are the enlightening and fascinating interviews with both Greengrass and Thewlis that put the film in the context of their successful careers. For both men it was their first feature film. Greengrass resembles a bespectacled wizard as he explains the origins of his love for cinema and storytelling, and the route he took to the influence and acclaim he commands today. Thewlis details how his experiences on the set of Resurrected helped him develop into the admirable actor he has become, with starring roles in the Harry Potter franchise amongst other blockbusters.
Greengrass admits he would have changed aspects of Resurrected if he made it today despite being proud of it as his first film. There are indeed moments where the inexperience shows, particularly in the cliché flashback battle scenes. However there are also glimpses of his later genius. Thewlis describes how, because of the film’s small budget, a scene in which Kevin returns on a plane had to be shot ad hoc in a real airport, with the crew simply running up the stairs of a recently landed plane once the passengers had disembarked. This foreshadows the brilliance of sequences like the suspenseful standoff in The Bourne Ultimatum at Waterloo station, which Greengrass filmed on the move, in real crowds, at the busy terminal. Such realism continues to make his films tremendously gripping.
Resurrected is an able drama examining the effects of war but it is a must have purchase for fans of Paul Greengrass and David Thewlis.
Liam Trim (follow me on Twitter)
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