Hearts & Bones(iTunes, YouTube)
Starring Hugo Weaving – Dan Fisher, Andrew Luri – Sebastian Ahmed,Hayley McElhinney – Josie Avril,Bolude Watson – Anishka Ahmed
Directed by Ben Lawrence
Rating: *** ½
It’s been a while since I saw a film so inured in layers of untapped feelings and frozen emotion which come undone as the narrative, in no hurry to get anywhere, pulls us into four lives affected by the horrors of war and unrest.
Australia’s pride Hugo Weaving plays a war photographer so severely stressed by all those years of witnessing civil unrest and sectarian massacres, that he is now a seriously traumatized ailing man. Weaving as Dan Fisher reminded me of war correspondent Marie Colvin in the film A Private War.
It is unimaginable what years of covering intense violence in war-ravaged countries could do to the human psyche. Hugo Weaving plays the traumatized photographer with no click baits to pull us in. He doesn’t need them. The film doesn’t need any stunts to pull us into its deeply felt , sparsely expressed emotions.
At one point, Dan’s pregnant wife remarks, “You find it easier to share your thoughts with a stranger than me.” There is no accusation in this observation. It is the truth of a complete emotional lock-down brought on by years of trauma on the job. Hearts & Bones is not an easy film to watch.It doesn’t waste time or energy in trying to prettify the hero’s horrific innerworld. It moves at its volition unheedful of getting our attention.
Dan’s psycho-stress is taken to a manageable level when he befriends a Sudanese taxi driver Sebastian(Andrew Luri) who has a request for Dan: don’t exhibit the pictures of the massacre that changed his life back home in Sudan.
The unlikely friendship is not very convincing, as Dan and Sebastian hardly look like emotionally wrecked drifters floating towards one another, There is too much restrain and isolation in one and too much cultural pride in the other, so that the friendship remains more of what we are told than what we see and feel between the two heroes.
More convincing is the dilemma of Seabastian’s wife(played with brilliant composure by Boluda Watson) . Watson’s Anishka is a wife trying to come to grips with her husband’s dark undisclosed past. There is a whole lifetime of compressed memories of ugliness and atrocities in both the men. Their wives too have their baggage to lug around as four people try to come to terms with their fractured lives.
Hearts & Bones may not be the emotional experience that you’d want this story to be.But it a much-needed expression of grief and clemency in a world desperate to hide its flaws .