REVIEW: DVD Release: Storm

Film: Storm
Release date: 2nd August 2010
Certificate: 15
Running time: 103 mins
Director: Hans-Christian Schmid
Starring: Kerry Fox, Anamaria Marinca, Stephen Dillane, Rolf Lassgard, Alexander Fehling
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Studio: Soda
Format: DVD
Country: Germany/Denmark/Netherlands

The inner workings of the European Union appear centre stage as Hans-Christian Schmid (director and co-writer) shines his critical spotlight upon an ostensibly expanding crevice of stark reality wedged between true justice and political expediency.

Hannah Maynard (Kerry Fox), employed as a prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, is belatedly placed in charge of a three year old case against Serbian general Goran Duric (Drazen Kuhn) for war crimes perpetrated during his country’s conflict.

Stress levels, already high after losing out in the promotion stakes to a less dedicated colleague; go into overdrive when her star witness perjures himself as a precursor to a remorse fuelled suicide.

With the case seemingly doomed, Hannah pleads with the witness’ sister Mira (Anamaria Marinca) to place herself and her family in danger by taking her brother’s place on the witness stand. It is Mira who has suffered the true atrocities that her brother pretended to witness in his misguided quest, for not only justice, but also to protect his immediate family from persecution by the accused and his followers...

Hans-Christian Schmid knits his plot together with a slow stitch, wisely allowing each character to reveal flaws and traits at well paced intervals. His direction is adequate, by the book, never flashy or unnecessarily ostentatious, and somewhat akin to the procedural obsessed characters that fill The Hauge’s judicial courtrooms and hallways. There is an underlying feeling of resigned indignation, issues simmer without fully bubbling over, as all concerned allow outside factors to influence true justice - and a director shows his feelings for the state of the European Union.

Schmid counters his purposely drab use of colour, stale soundtrack and bland settings by telling his politically tense story from the emotive dual female perspective of Hannah and Mira. By giving us this sensitive slice of humanity, amongst the throng of grey suited mediocrity, we feel compelled to empathise with their plight, while simultaneously feeling frustrated as they come up against bureaucratic brick walls.

Both lead actresses are outstanding; one expertly portraying repressed, yet swelling emotional undercurrents as the put upon, somewhat paranoid, prosecutor striving for justice through the mire of thick nonsensical red tape, while the other is never less than proficient when displaying conflictive feelings caused by necessity verses integrity. The supporting cast are all adequate but it is when the two lead actresses are brought together, displaying their selfless acting abilities, while enhancing a suspenseful atmosphere crafted by a director on a mission, that the film springs to life.

The dialogue is well structured, while the script, which is occasionally laboured, gains credence by dealing with topical issues with an obvious knowledgeable insight. Yet, ironically, this is also the movies Achilles heel. Events and procedures are so close to the inner workings of a legal system governed by technicalities that Schmid occasionally abandons entertainment for frustrating boring reality. Points against the European Union are often well made, but, at times, lack balance, and his criticism is unconstructive in nature, yet he does soften slightly as the film approaches the credits, and so, in so doing, leaves his audience with the slimmest slither of hope.

Storm is a dark, thought provoking drama that, having the courage of its convictions, aims high only to fall short at the final hurdle. MG

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