Italian/English, 2014, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A.
Lee, a world-weary American woman arrives in an Italian city. Her tangles with hotel staff, incessant smoking, and disregard of the persistently ringing telephone hint at her volatility brewing beneath the surface. Between fitful naps, she wanders the streets, snapping pictures of refugees as if her camera were both weapon and olive branch. Struggling to confront her demons, Lee resolves to help a beautiful young woman in need, and this passionate new purpose begins to dissolve Lee’s anguish.
From frame one, War Story penetrates the visceral interior world of a character enduring the aftermath of a trauma she cannot express, holding us on the edge of our seats with unsettling urgency and mystery. Catherine Keener gives a brilliantly controlled, riveting performance as a woman trapped in existential purgatory, teetering between sanity and chaos, consciousness and obliteration. War Story never doles out explanations; it invites us to piece together Lee’s elusive story and to get comfortable with the destabilizing experience of not knowing—a challenge Lee must also meet.
Director: Mark Jackson
Screenwriters: Mark Jackson, Kristin Gore
Producers: Kristin Gore, Shona Tuckman, Catherine Keener, Matt Ratner
Cinematographer: Reed Morano
Editor: Kate Abernathy
Music: Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, Amy Lee
Production Designer: Jorge Barba
Principal Cast: Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi, Vincenzo Amato, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ben Kingsley