PASSCHENDAELE (Alliance, 2008) D: Paul Gross, w/ Gross, Caroline Dhavernas. Rating: NN; DVD package: NNN Rating: NN
Give Paul Gross credit for good intentions. The writer/director/producer/star of Passchendaele wants to show us a piece of World War I Canadian history in the trenches and on the home front, demonstrate the horrors of war and do it all in an audience-friendly Hollywood romance.
He succeeds in the fighting, which feels like a genuine hell of mud, blood, murder and pain. How the filmmakers did it is the best part of the mostly superficial making-of doc.
The rest is a matter of too much interesting history turned into one-line factoids, while the story of Sergeant Michael Dunne's (Gross) battlefield failure, romance with a nurse (Caroline Dhavernas) and battlefield redemption is rendered in ill-written, pretentious and stiffly played scenes whose most common dialogue motif is some variation on "I don't understand you."
EXTRAS Making-of doc. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.