Passchendaele to Passionville

 

Entwined in romance and brief flashbacks, Passchendaele is like no war film we have ever seen. Tagged as a war film, Passchendaele, directed and starred by Paul Gross, provides limited insight on  this great Canadian battle.  From the start one thinks  “wow a war film”, but within five minutes that the thought is gone. There is nothing about planning of the Battle of Passchendaele, only of a nurse and a crooked-toothed man. After five minutes Passchendaele transforms itself into Passionville, full of romance and unnecessary exploitation of human body parts. Male freckled-butts and breasts fly furiously only to prove that the young characters aren’t able to stop being young and hormone pumped. The director’s attempt to arouse attention is a failure.

The director’s sculpted characters do not prove to be successful either, they are fairly undeveloped  other than for love . The brother, David Mann (Joe Dinicol), is a weakling, being the typical annoying brother; he lies to his sister and purposely hurts her. The sister, Sarah Mann (Caroline Dhavernas), is damaged goods unwilling to surrender her past for Michael Dunne(Paul Gross), but surprisingly she gives herself in at war under the shooting shells. There they have clothed sex before Michael goes to the front line. Once again the viewers are disturbed by unwanted moaning and groaning in the rain. Finishing their heated scene Michael leaves the “room” from a door in an erected wall in the middle of the war fields. Entering and exiting from the door causes some amount of unexpected and unintentional humor.

Finally the last thirty minutes are filled with attempts at war scenes. However, the fighting and dying are extremely staged. The extras seem reluctant to fall in the cold muddy grounds.Rolls of human dominos tumble in exactly the same position, but by this point any viewer would be satisfied with any form of violence.  Just when the rough edges of war appeal, Michael reincarnates himself into the Christ bearing a cross with David tangled on it. A whole elevated scene is dedicated to this saintly act. Even the Germans are touched and allowed him to go on with his pilgrimage to bring the brother back to the sister. Again the film sparkles with love and care and compassion. The film starts with a bang, but ends in a whimper. The actors had done the best they can with the script, but the movie is too romanticized even for a flock of teenagers to tolerate.

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