Guy X
"Both cast and crew shine in creating a harmonic picture of the quieter times in a soldier's life."

Desolate surroundings shimmer in the distance. The looped twang of an evocative guitar soundtracks barren images. A disillusioned protagonist literally drops in.

Despite impressive beginnings, Saul Metzsteins hazy post 'nam flick takes all the right cues from a Seventies new-wave ilk, but draws blank on a definite conclusion. A slight Catch 22, indeed.

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Left high, dry and freezing under the perma-light sun of a bleak Greenland army base, Rudy/Petersen (Jason Biggs) finds himself victim of a case of mistaken identity. Stuck in a place where the only highlight is an annual piss-up, or the next bi-monthly cargo drop, Guy X is an underplayed exercise in military boredom. With futile escape attempts abandoned, his efforts are channelled through an editorial position on the base's weekly propaganda rag, all supervised under the watchful eye of Colonel Woolwrap (Jeremy Northam). Before the sun sets on Rudy's icy odyssey, he manages to attract the attention of the colonel's squeeze (Natasha McElhone) and discover a long forgotten blot on the good ole USA's military past.

So, it's a war movie of sorts, which has been released during a time of conflict. So what exactly is Guy X's core message?

Abiding by the oft spouted, "There's been a fuck up," is Metzstein taking his source material by the knackers and producing a riff on the military's uncanny knack of cocking things up? Not quite. Whilst producing the bare bones of an argument against the Vietnam conflict - detailed in the titular bed-bound character - Metzstein's film takes pride in being a simple foray into military life.

While avoiding a derivative howl against the red, white and blue, Guy X flows at a steady pace. Both cast and crew shine in creating a harmonic picture of the quieter times in a soldier's life. This is, in fact, Jarhead Redux. Swap the desert for icy plains and bravado-filled boredom for plain old understated tedium and the polarities are clear. This is a film intent on making you think, without treading on too many polished toes.

Although never packing the biting humour of M.A.S.H, or the disturbing paranoia of Catch 22, Guy X stands as a solid entry into the Noughties' catalogue of modern war.

Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2006
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Odd goings on at isolated US base in Greenland, as witnessed by a man with two names.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Saul Metzstein

Writer: Steve Attridge, John Paul Chapple

Starring: Jason Biggs, Natascha McElhone, Jeremy Northam, Michael Ironside, Sean Tucker, Benz Antoine, Nelson Balderrama, Buck Deachman, Rob deLeeuw, Donny Falsetti, Hilmir Snær Guðnason

Year: 2005

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: UK/Canada/Iceland/Germany


EIFF 2005

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