Eye For Film >> Movies >> Dragoon (2013) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
It's August 1944 and Scottish soldiers are being parachuted into southern France to join the war. One man wakes up alone on a tree branch, his chute and pack lost high above him. He too is lost, with a map that seems pretty meaningless in the maze of pines, and as he wanders in search of his unit he struggles to come to terms with his situation.
It's a simple idea just the right size for this short, which comes across more like a poem than a straightforward story. Phenix's preference for close-ups and blurred backgrounds effectively captures the claustrophobia of the forest and its apparent endlessness. An evocative and sensibly understated core by Trans Atlantic Rage and Balogh complements this well. The film was shot in Scotland and the very fact that it passes so well for France adds to the poignancy of the young man's predicament, stranded somewhere that could be home but isn't, just as he is socially stranded in a context that could simply be life but has become about death.
Less successful is the voiceover the conveys the young man's thoughts; it jars with the tone of the film and doesn't quite fit into its soundscape. That said, the simplicity of the language used helps to keep it feeling natural and the plainness of Euan Maharg's delivery helps the viewer to understand him as an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. In this regard, the low budget also works in the film's favour - it's more effective because we never see any obvious signs of the enemy. The smallness of the story keeps it focused on the human aspect of the situation.
Despite its unevenness, Dragoon shows a confidence and strength of vision that bode well for its director's future. It has a clear voice and, though there are few original war stories left to tell, it delivers its tale well.Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2013