Freedom. Country. Honor. Passion. To save his best friend, one man must risk everything he loves.
Set in 1898 Sudan, this fifth film to be adapted from the A.E.W. Mason novel follows a British officer who resigns his post right before his regiment shops out to battle the rebels. Perceiving his resignation as cowardice, his friends and fiancee give him four white feathers, the symbol of cowardice, but little do they know he’s actually going undercover and plans to redeem his honour.
What is interesting about this movie is the time-period and conflict that it is based in, simply because it isn’t a period of history that gets all that much screen time and this in itself makes it quite different from all the other period pieces out there. The film itself explores how a man experiences his fear and is then goaded into action by pride and stubbornness, a man who once again throws everything away in order to conquer that fear and prove to everyone, and most of all to himself, that he isn’t a coward after all – he simply needs the right motivation. It talks of love and camaraderie and in general has just that right amount of meat and depth in the story to make it work.
While the heart of the movie is that of a drama, we do get quite a number of light-hearted moments between the lads, as well as a fair bit of action as the final encounters take center stage, thereby yanking the movie out of possible Dullsville and expanding the audience who may take some enjoyment out of watching it.
Acting is top notch with some fine performances from Heath Ledger and Wes Bentley as the pivotal characters, though Kate Hudson appeared a little bit out of place to me (but most likely only because the last thing I’ve seen her in was Bride Wars – a genre far removed from this heavy-handed period drama!).
The musical score in particular is also well worked and compliments need to go out to the director and set manager for some wonderfully composed camera shots, sequences and an exquisite attention to detail with regards to costumes and props.
One thing that the movie does however lack is decent pacing and more importantly, it seems intent on just glossing over big chunks of time without any explanation whatsoever, something that is very disruptive to the viewer, leaves gaping big holes in which questions need to be stuffed and quite simply detracts from the flow of the actual story.
Nevertheless, this is a decent film attempt with a good, meaty story about friends and the conquering of one’s fear, and is by no means at the bottom of the movie-making pile. Well worth a watch if you are a Heath Ledger fan or do enjoy these Red-Jacket period pieces set in time of Britain’s greatest colonial strength!
Related link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240510/