Film - Lions for Lambs

Lions for Lambs

Steve Taylor-Bryant with a political film that doesn't really fit in anywhere...

Lions for Lambs is a strange kind of film. It doesn't sit in any particular category well so would be hard to recommend to someone as a play in any particular genre. It's part war, part political, part consequence of action and inaction, and has an almost documentary feel to it that you could believe it is were it not for a few world renowned stars of the screen. 

I like Robert Redford as both an actor and director and whilst I don't know the man personally he comes across as fair. The fairness comment I think is particularly important when it comes to Lions for Lambs, as a lot of the film is almost a debate between a left wing journalist in the form of Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) and a Republican Senator with a new plan for the war on terror, Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise). Alongside the political dialogue of middle eastern conflict there is Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) telling the story of two soldiers to student Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield) who has lost his way a bit and is seeking advice from Malley. At no point in any of Matthew Michael Carnahan's quite polished script does either side's politics seem to win over. During George W Bush reign as President it was often considered fair game by a liberal Hollywood to bash the right but again fairness creeps in with Cruise's character seemingly a politician that wants to do right by his country and not an over the top neo-con at all, and Streep, whilst wary of the Senator's intentions, admits to the failings of her own side in the past. During the two separate scenes of narrative there is a third story unfolding involving with two special forces soldiers trying to survive after an ambush killed their team in Afghanistan.

Whilst I can't categorise the film I can endorse you watching it. Nowhere in real life will you have two opposites of the political spectrum come together and debate the fate of the world in such an eloquent way and rarely do such a wonderful cast work so well whilst driving three different separate stories whilst bringing them together quite brilliantly. I have long admired Cruise as an actor and whilst I love his more action oriented movies the guy knows how to flex his theatrical muscles when need be. As Irving, Cruise showed the drive and passion that deep down most political animals have, whilst keeping the intellectual actions needed for a future presidential candidate. Streep seems to just keep producing and I can't think of a film off the top of my head she has not excelled in. Tough, sassy, distrustful and yet soft and apologetic when needed there is not another actress around today that can do what Streep does. Redford didn't excel seemingly content to sit back and glue together the plays whilst the other cast members carried the weight and it is this soft touch that works so well.

Is there a plan for the Middle East that could work? I genuinely doubt it. Will we ever see a politician and a reporter debate so openly and fairly in a real life situation? I fear Middle East peace is more achievable.

Image - IMDb.

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