Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TIFF 2015: Hyena Road

Rossif Sutherland (Ryan) and Paul Gross (Pete)
Hyena Road (Canada, 2015) directed by Paul Gross, TIFF Lightbox 2, 120 minutes

Paul Gross wrote, directed and co-starred in his newest offering about Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Did you realize that our engagement there was longer than our involvement in WWI, WWII and the Korean War put together? 

There were words at dinner tonight as the husband teased me about how much I cried during the film. (It's true. It's not a testimony to its quality - and it is very good - but certainly a tribute to the intensity of the scenes it depicts.) 

The characterizations of both the Canadians and the Afghans are nuanced and fair-minded. I would love to hear from a solder stationed there to hear their sense of its accuracy. Wounded Warriors - a charity and veterans service organization that offers programs for the wounded veterans of the military actions following 9/11 were involved in the making of the film. 

The Canadian troops are building a key road through the county - called Hyena Road - in a conflict zone. Sniper Ryan (Rossif Sutherland) patrols the region with three fellow snipers seeking out potential dangers, of which there are many. Paul Gross is Pete Mitchell, an intelligence officer seeking to engage "hearts and minds" in the region and secure information that will permit further engagement with the Afghans. 

Writer/Director Paul Gross
The men encounter a former mujahid known as The Ghost (Neamat Arghandabi), an elder marked by his distinctive and alluring eyes - one disturbingly blue, one brown. The Ghost shelters Ryan and his men preventing them being massacred by the Taliban during a fire fight. He harbours an important secret that makes him valuable to the Canadian forces. 

Their lives come together in a terrible and eventful manner - to say more would ruin the film and I want you to see it because it's a moving, nuanced depiction of the conflict. The men and women may, or may not, be uniformly heroic but they are realistically portrayed - neither saints nor demons. There seemed to be a number of servicemen and women in the audience (or people affiliated with servicemen and women) and they were openly appreciative of the film. I hope he got it right. 

TIFF of the Day: Objectification of the day and there has to be at least one - why else do we go to the movies and stare at beautiful creatures? When Paul Gross came out after the film to answer questions, I said to myself "Ooooh, his hair is silver now." (I was thinking of that Mountie from way, way back with the dark brown hair) But then I looked at him, really looked at him, from my perch in the third row, and thought, "Ooooh, his hair is silver now." Nice.

No comments: