Director Paul Greengrass is best known for making the
frenetic and bruising style of the Bourne movies his own. But his 1989 feature
film debut, based on the true story of a Falklands soldier returning from the
dead, is a world away from the all action thrillers starring A-Lister Matt
Damon he helms these days. It begins in a very British village church and comes complete with the trappings of northern rural life, from family drama to pints down the pub.
The intrigue of Resurrected rests on the fact that we are
never quite sure whether its protagonist, Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis),
deserted his regiment during the final battle of the 1982 conflict with
Argentina. At the beginning of the film his story sounds suspicious and the
army give him a grilling. But Kevin is then rapidly whisked home to a jubilant
childhood community and family. The tabloids swing between hailing him a hero
and cruelly insinuating cowardice. When Kevin returns to barracks his fellow
soldiers are encouraged to torment him by telly veteran Christopher Fulford’s
Slaven, who is concealing his own demons and flashbacks. Kevin’s girlfriend
struggles to deal with his changed personality.
This is a touching film with warm as well as tense and
menacing moments. Kevin’s parents are capably played by Tom Bell and Rita
Tushingham, and I found the scenes with his younger brother, who likes to play
with guns and remain fiercely loyal to his role model, especially poignant. It
skims over some big themes like institutionalised bullying, love and loss. Most
of all it does a good job of subtly portraying the horrific uncertainty of war
and the further agony of being an outcast from the home you spent so long
The best reasons to get hold of the DVD of Resurrected though are the enlightening and fascinating interviews with both Greengrass and Thewlis that put the film in the context of their successful careers. For both
men it was their first feature film. Greengrass resembles a bespectacled wizard
as he explains the origins of his love for cinema and storytelling, and the
route he took to the influence and acclaim he commands today. Thewlis details
how his experiences on the set of Resurrected helped him develop into the
admirable actor he has become, with starring roles in the soon to end Harry
Potter franchise amongst other blockbusters.
Greengrass admits he would have changed aspects of Resurrected
if he made it today despite being proud of it as his first film. There are
indeed moments where the inexperience shows, particularly in the cliché
flashback battle scenes. However there are also glimpses of his later genius.
Thewlis describes how, because of the film’s small budget, a scene in which
Kevin returns on a plane had to be shot ad hoc in a real airport, with the crew
simply running up the stairs of a recently landed plane once the passengers had
disembarked. This foreshadows the brilliance of sequences like the suspenseful
standoff in The Bourne Ultimatum at Waterloo station, which Greengrass filmed on the move, in real crowds, at the busy terminal. Such realism continues to make his films tremendously gripping.
Resurrected is an able drama examining the effects of war but it is a must have purchase for fans of Paul Greengrass and David Thewlis.