In taking on a tragedy in Iraq, Brian De Palma's 'Redacted' laments the humanity that's lost in a voyeuristic world

Review B

November 30, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

Brian De Palma's documentary-style fiction film Redacted is a bristling act of protest that obliterates a target it isn't aiming for.

To research a factual Iraq war atrocity - U.S. soldiers rape and murder an innocent teenage girl, and slaughter most of her family - De Palma scoured soldiers' blogs and first-hand war videos, their Web sites and YouTube postings, then created his own pointed versions of them. The title refers to the way the news and government establishment erased the war's damage to Iraqis from the vision of most Americans, and the movie unfolds in a cutting-edge collage: a soldier's fly-on-the-wall digital footage combined with streaming video from American and insurgent Internet sites.

But rather than see these new means of communication as a liberating truth-telling force - which might have been De Palma's intention - Redacted suggests that our powers of compassion and advocacy and our capacity for outrage diminish when reality gets reduced to the size of a computer screen. With the innate brilliance of a born filmmaker, De Palma connects our inadequate response to public tragedy to the international meltdown that occurred with the onslaught of new media.

Redacted (Magnolia Pictures) Starring Izzy Diaz, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Patrick Carroll, Mike Figueroa, Ty Jones, Rob Devaney, Kel O'Neil, Zahara Al Zubaidi. Directed by Brian De Palma. Rated R. Time 90 minutes.

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