Movies are about what you see on the screen like visuals, imagery, or understand the deep meaning of the story. But, movies can make you feel what the actors feel. Just take a look at Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men”. It’s a movie that focuses more on acting rather than the story. The story in this movie is one of the benchmarks of how the performance and the actors react. In this movie, you only feel the experience, the tone, and the feeling. It’s one of the most realistic movies you have ever seen because of the performance. Similar to “At War”, directed by French director Stéphane Brizé. It’s one of the bizarre films and the most realistic films about struggle and strike.
“At War” is a smart movie despite the mainstream audience that may not enjoy the touch of this movie. There isn’t much content other than it’s about working-class people trying to strike a company after promising them a job. A movie like this sometimes leaves a negative imprint on its main critics as well as American audiences. Yeah, the movie discusses 1100 workers trying to fight back after the upper class cheated them. They strike because a German company bought the factory who decided so they never work. So, the only way for them to return is to strike over.
Vincent Lindon as Laurent Amédéo is a union man who leads them to shout to bring down the factory. He put together all of them but conflicts also often occur between them. It’s not Amédéo’s fault or everyone, but they are very easy to stab each other. One unique thing about this movie is, except Lindon, everybody in this movie isn’t an actor. But, such a background displays the most realistic performance ever. To tell you the truth, I’m astonishing with this movie besides the story is dull and repetitive. It repeats the same scene over and over again.
What I love about “12 Angry Men” is how Sidney Lumet quickly captures the reaction of the audience between characters. And this is what I like about these types of films as well. “At War” slowly capturing the line between audience and character. All characters in this film feel trapped in a system. They try to fight but also try to protect their space. When one character after another falls into a situation, the cinematography and audience both squeezed together. Eric Dumont also often puts the image into the street march or something. When it comes to debate and conversation, we join their groups too. We are suddenly in the same situation.
Some of them are ridiculous especially at the ending of the movie. It shows a montage of characters feel bad and sad. It’s cheesy and a bit manipulative for a film like this. “At War” has pretentious and repetitive storytelling. In short, the movie is just about talking, debating, and talking. However, the movie always keeps you because of the performance. Besides Lindon, all of the actors in this movie are not actors at all. Lindon’s performance becomes a benchmark from other actors. Lindon and other actors are so easy to vent their feelings and expressions to each other.
All the actors throw each other an argument at one another. Because of Lindon’s strong push, this made all the people appear realistic without anyone holding them back. They are free to do anything. The movie also has a redundant score. I like experimental music but this film doesn’t work with me at all when it comes to this aspect. It’s repetitive, just like the story, and it’s playing over and over again. Sometimes, the movie wants to be edgy except when you remember you still watch films about politics.
The ending of this movie is too exaggerating. This film also seems to want to talk to certain groups whatsoever. It’s too cheesy, overdramatic, and too cartoonish. However, “At War” becomes one of the tired films in the best sense, a story about fight and fight realistically. This movie leaves you with nothing but the movie has a disturbing moment with such a minimalist score and set. It relies on the power of acting without anyone propping up its actors. And the movie works well.
3.5 out of 5 stars.