Directed by Angelina Jolie
Starring Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Domhnall Gleeson
In UK Cinemas December 26th, 2014
In US Cinemas December 25th, 2014

Unbroken is the true life story of Olympic athlete and war prisoner Louis Zamperini, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand.  Louis is a survivor and remains unbroken by all of the trials and tribulations forced upon him during World War II.  From crashing into the Pacific where he remained floating for 47 days to becoming prisoner in a Japanese war camp for over two and a half years, nothing breaks Louis’ spirit.

In what is a horrific yet life-affirming story, director Jolie beautifully captures the human spirit, notably through lingering shots of beautiful young men.  I was in fact a bit shocked (and totally into it) as camera shots focused for an uncomfortably long duration on groups of gorgeous topless men, most of whom have very toned bodies and beautiful blue eyes.  With the backdrop of a Hawaiian island, a group of young men sit tanned and topless in a jeep on a beach, grinning their bleached toothy smiles, eyes twinkling for the camera.  Imperial Japanese army sergeant “The Bird” with flawless ivory skin, defined cheekbones, well manicured nails and threaded eyebrows is way too beautiful to be on the battleground, nevermind in charge of a prisoner camp.  Angelina Jolie certainly has a type, and a bit of a fetish if these lingering shots tell us anything.

This erotic WWII drama about the human spirit is obviously flawed, but is still a great film.  All of the actors show ridiculous commitment to their roles, some nearly wasting away to physical nothingness in their effort to look the part of a starving distressed soldier.  Jack O’Connell is captivating as Louis Zamperini and carries this film with grace and the embodiment of the human spirit prevailing.  This film is his star turn.  Japanese pop star Miyavi, while too beautiful to be believable, is striking on screen and has a strong presence that could almost be described as the transgender J-Pop version of Angelina Jolie herself.  Domhnall Gleeson also deserves a mention for his performance and physicality.  There is one scene in particular that had the audience gasp from shock and horror as he unclothed to reveal a very protruding rib cage.

The bulk of this film does well to tell the horrific story of Louis Zamperini and his fellow soldiers as they struggle for survival during their ordeals in World War II.  The directing is very solid, the acting even more so.  While we all know how the story ends, the director’s take on it is the biggest and most unfortunate flaw of the film.  I, for one, have had enough of true stories ending in cheesy tribute.  Coldplay music should be banned from all film, especially from one that is otherwise powerful.  The sappiness of the ending sadly lets this movie down and is the point where Unbroken broke me.

Overall, Unbroken is a flawed but great film with an unbelievable true story to tell, led by fantastic twinkly-eyed performances from its young and promising cast.

One Response to “Unbroken”

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