Movie Review : Hacksaw Ridge

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This time of year is usually a great time for quality movies, as evidenced by my last few reviews.

Why? Because it’s Oscar bait season!

To see if Mel Gibson’s directorial return cuts it, keep reading ….

Desmond Doss (Garfield) is a small town boy with a very strict moral code when he joins the army during World War Two as a field medic. Doss is different to every other soldier in that he is a conscientious objector and refuses to bear arms. He is a devout Seventh Day Adventist but his beliefs run much deeper than simply his religion.

Desmond is the son of a man (Weaving) broken by World War One and a mother (Griffiths) almost broken by her husband. His staunch religious beliefs and his love for local nurse Dorothy (Palmer) seem to be all that carry him through.

A man of his word, he has to endure ridicule, violence and even a court-marshal in his quest to stay true to himself. His journey is not an easy one but he never seems to think that it would be. His reluctance even to turn on his aggressors slowly but surely wins him the respect of all around him but it wont be until these young men finally enter the war at Okinawa that the true depth of this young man’s courage will be revealed.

These days when you think of Mel Gibson, images of a drunken, disheveled, angry, misogynistic, anti- semantic, sad old man come to mind. It’s difficult to remember that underneath all this hate and anger, a truly talented actor and director reside. Although all is not….and never will be…. forgiven, I have to give credit where credit is due.

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Hacksaw Ridge is a truly wonderful movie. It is a story of bravery, love and courage masterfully told and brought to life. It is moving, funny and I must warn, very violent and gory in parts. But having seen Apocalypto many years ago, this does not surprise me in the slightest.

The script is strong and although it does tend to get a bit preachy in parts, as Desmond’s religious beliefs that are at the core of the movie, again hardly surprising.

The movie’s only female characters, Desmond’s mother Bertha and his fiancee/wife Dorothy, are treated with a particularly careful hand.  These roles are small yet pivotal in understanding our young hero. Bertha could easily be portrayed as a broken woman but she too has deeply held and strong beliefs with an inner strength, not dissimilar to that of her son. Similarly, his wife has a strong will of her own and a deep, unwavering love for Desmond that carries him through moments of self doubt. One has to wonder is this a mea culpa from the director or am I just too cynical?

Expect this movie to feature heavily at awards time and rightfully so. Made here in Australia and featuring just about every working male actor in the country, this is one not to miss. I looked away from some of the gorier scenes but overall, was enthralled for the entire 131 minutes.

All that is left to say is …..welcome back Mel.

4 1/2 stars

Love Sue-Ellen xx

 

Director : Mel Gibson

Starring : Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Pegler, Goran D Kleut, Milo Gibson, Ryan Corr, Matt Nable, Richard Roxburgh

Running Time : 131 minutes

Release Date :  November 3

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