Harrison's Flowers


Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Sarah Lloyd (Andie MacDowell) refuses to believe that her photojournalist husband, Harrison (David Strathairn), has been killed in the war in Yugoslavia. Leaving behind her two young children in America, she walks right into the heart of the battle in the hope that she'll find him. Silly fool.

There is much that is terrible in Harrison's Flowers, but there is also much that is brilliant. What saves this mix from ruining the film, is that the good and the bad are kept separate. Yes, the main story and characters are caked with schmaltz, but once people start fighting and dying, it's forgotten about.

Harrison's Flowers could have been one of the best films ever, but at least it's saved from being one of the worst.

If this wasn't a film, Sarah Lloyd would have been killed within minutes of entering the country. People are being shot, bombed, raped, murdered. There is a war going on, and she's leaving behind her two young children who, if this were real, would soon be orphaned, just because she doesn't think her husband is dead. It's schmaltz, and infuriating schmaltz at that.

The depiction of conflict is something else altogether. The film's strength lies in reminding us that war is not a good thing; it's moving, it's terrifying, it's real. Brendan Gleeson, Elias Koteas and particularly Adrien Brody act and react with genuine feeling. It seems odd to label an Oscar winner as one to watch, but Brody is just that. He is an amazing actor, who will treat us to many more special performances in his career, I'm sure.

All things considered, Andie MacDowell isn't too bad. When she's given schmaltz, she isn't swamped by it and when placed in war, she is convincing. She doesn't manage to save the film from its contrived story, but she can't be blamed for anything.

Harrison's Flowers is a mix of styles. There is as much to enjoy as there is to decry.

Reviewed on: 11 Aug 2003
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A woman stumbles into the war in Yugoslavia in search of her husband.
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Director: Elie Chouraqui

Writer: Elie Chouraqui, Didier Le PĂȘcheur, Michael Katims, Isabel Ellsen, based on the novel by Isabel Ellsen.

Starring: Andie MacDowell, Elias Koteas, Brendan Gleeson, Adrien Brody, David Strathairn, Alun Armstrong, Caroline Goodall, Diane Baker, Marie Trintignant, Christian Charmetant, Gerard Butler

Year: 2000

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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