Review: Restrepo DVD

Restrepo DVD boxSTUDIO: Virgil | DIRECTORS: Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington
RELEASE DATE: 12/7/10 | PRICE: DVD $19.99, Blu-ray $34.99
BONUSES: deleted/extended scenes and interviews, updates on soldiers of 2nd Platoon, collection of YouTube/ videos, photo gallery
SPECS: R | 93 min. | Documentary | widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Restrepo is an intensely intimate documentary portrait of the American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan’s isolated and hotly contested Korengal Valley during several months of 2007.

The film’s directors — Sebastian Junger, the writer of 1997’s The Perfect Storm, and Tim Hetherington, an adventurous British embedded photographer — were the only crew on site to film, daringly staying shoulder-to-shoulder with the men in a small dirty hole for months of unending attacks and harsh conditions. With Restrepo, they have created a deep exploration of what it means to be in combat, stripped of almost all political, historical and strategic context to focus more closely on the fighting man’s state of mind.

This is the digital generation’s war, one fought by kids who spent their childhoods with first-person shooters, cellular phones and instant Internet gratification. But they hoot and holler and grieve and thirst for blood the same as any generation’s army.

The interviews and moments of camaraderie and grief are heartfelt and deeply personal. We see the thousand-yard PTSD stare that their close encounter with death and terror has given them. We witness the unique and genuine kind of love that only people pinned down in a hole for their shared mission can develop.

The winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Restrepo is a revelatory film, one seemingly designed as a civilian’s primer for the soldier’s state of mind. As the close friend of an Iraq veteran, for me, it puts much of the changes he underwent into clear context.


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About Alex

Alex Kikuchi loves movies of every size and variety and has fancied himself a film critic ever since Mystery Science Theater made it look so easy when he was a kid in the 1990s.