Jamie H. de la Fuente
Through the history of film, war and destruction has been seen in almost every part of this world. In Harrisons Flowers, Croatia (the former Yugoslavia), and its civil war is dramatized with frightening reality. Throughout the movie the violence is depicted with several graphic examples of ethnic cleansing could only be compared to the atrocities the Nazis committed in WWII.
The story line is somewhat similar to that of Saving Private Ryan. The main character, Sarah Lloyd (Andie MacDowell) goes to Croatia in search of her husband, Harrison (David Strathairn), who has been reported dead. Upon arriving to this war torn country, the true reality of how extensively the war has escaladed begins to unfold and become apparent to Sarah. Technically, the movie does an excellent job showing the details of warfare, but the story line demonstrates several shortcuts by the producer (Elie Chouraqui) and writers. The main character, Sarah Lloyd, is portrayed with a very limited emotional capacity. One example is when Sarah receives the report of Harrisons presumed death; the natural emotional impact was not conveyed to the audience. Instead of showing grief, she turns into a modern day woman of war, assuming nothing could possibly happen to her in a war zone.
Upon arriving in Croatia, the story gets even more far fetched. Without any true understanding of the country, Sarah, a woman from New Jersey ventures out to find her husband. Along the way she picks up a hitchhiker. Before too long a Russian made tank attacks them. They survive with barely a scratch on her. As the story continues, the power of coincidence switches into overdrive. Sarah continues to explore the country, meeting up with all her friends as though she was Alice in wonderland 1500 miles away from home. In one scene, Sarahs warfare training is displayed in her ability to avoid a Croatian sniper just like a scene right out of Saving Private Ryan.
Kyle (Adrien Brody), a freelance photojournalists and friend to Harrison, meets up with Sarah and helps strengthens the story throughout the remainder of the film. Andie MacDowell failed to expand the capabilities of her character and did not give the human emotional range expected throughout enduring a war or the loss of a husband.
One interesting observation was the ability to traverse war zones with just a camera and never be questioned or even killed. I would like to think that if the director wanted to show the risks and importance involved in being a photojournalist, he would of also considered all the facts and not just those that seem convenient for a movie.
Harrisons Flowers portrays war quite well but lacks the substance required to maintain a story without cutting corners or is the reality that I can run though hot zones with just a camera, a press pass and a car with press credential without ever being hurt. Sarah represented the capabilities of a person determined to find the truth, but fails to express the full reality that photojournalist provide a very important aspect to the news as a chronicle of actual events, instead the seem to be army special forces commandos with cameras. In the light of recent events, the film fails to show the full impact and dangers reporters actually experience. While the movie works in a visual sense it left me needing more in the way of emotional commitment.