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Tigerland (Joel Schumacher) 2000

Joel Schumacher's Tigerland left me pleasantly surprised. Colin Farrell gives a teriffic performance, second only to Christian Bale as the best lead actor's performance of 2000. This is a war film that is almost a Dogma film (there are some disqualifying voice-overs & music added) which is a gamble that works. The film takes place during a few weeks during an Army platoon's advanced infantry training in 1971, and examines the way the Army motivates & molds its soldiers. The film's far from Full Metal Jacket in tone, however. The closest war film I can think of in outlook is The Thin Red Line (one of the characters even mentions Jones' novel) since both films realize the diversity of background, motivation, and intelligence of the enlisted soldiers.  Some of the soldiers are there out of a sense of duty, some were drafted... most of them realize they might be in over their heads.

The dramatic thrust of the film concerns Bozz (Farrell), a trainee who has a knack for finding loopholes that allow people to get out of the Army. He was drafted & refuses to support the Army's cause. He is quite sympathetic toward his fellow trainees, and really hates the concept of the Army because he fears if he conforms to their standard, he'll lose his personality & emotional grounding (something on full display in Kubrick's film).  He actively rebels against his superiors, and, refreshingly,  his logic is pretty fuzzy at times. The amazing thing about his performance is that the movie sees through his front (he's really just scared) but he still manages to stand for something to the troops and audience. There's a real sense of confusion in the film, which is very appropriate considering the trainees are all rather young. 

There are a few logically awkward sequences when some men appeal to Bozz to try to ask for help in getting out of the Army, but the emotions in them seem genuine... and when was the last time we could say that about one of Schumacher's films (The Client?). All in all, it's a teriffic film that shouldn't be overlooked.

***1/2