Directed by Jon Stanford
Starring Tom Campion, Rebecca Birch, Simon Armstrong, France's Ruffelle, Paul Sadot, & Katherine Stevens
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
The effect of war on cinema is well documented. Storytellers find an unlimited resource in the nature of conflict and its fallout, so much so that war as a genre has to be divided into its own subcategories. The "post-war assimilation" movie offers compelling and harrowing stories to be told about characters who embody identifiable traits that have long been staples of film; such as heroism, redemption, violence, and love. Tackling the subject matter of a post-war world should never be taken lightly, and indie film Long Forgotten Fields, debut feature by Jon Stanford, certainly approaches the material with enough compassion and determination, if veering into self-indulgence at times.
The plot sees Sam (Tom Campion) return home from duty serving in Afghanistan, to his rural home town and partner Lily (Rebecca Birch). Military service has obviously left its scars on Sam, but as the couple attempt to rekindle their relationship, no one could predict the psychological damage which has been done and the collateral damage that would follow.
PTSD is a fascinating subject matter for a film, offering the chance to present a character whose violent background gets accepted immediately by an audience and his subsequent actions are evaluated with an air of compassionate understanding, if not complete forgiveness. Sam is just such a character, delivered to the audience in a way that we immediately sympathise with him, and are able to look past some of his more aggressive displays of behaviour. Even when he pushes Lily up against the wall and covers her mouth, we are made to feel more intrigued about his affliction than worried for the safety of his girlfriend. What Stanford does really well, is to take this a step further. The indie film develops into a more harrowing and tense piece, where the boundaries of assimilation become blurred with the violent nature of someone's character.
At times the film suffered from some wooden delivery, the emotional depth of the scene seeming to be too much for the players, and there were sequences that were just too elongated. Slow dissolves of leaves whilst we digest the impact of the preceding scene, or long takes of Sam washing his hands, all felt rather self-indulgent. There was a powerful punch to this film that got diluted by such tactics, afraid to commit to a more challenging pace.
That all being said, there is a lot to like about Long Forgotten Fields. It's a film that truly develops its characters, and is not afraid to linger on uncomfortable scenes, which is where the emotional heart is found to a tale like this.
The cinematography delivers some fantastic landscapes that are a delight to behold, alongside some intense wooded scenery which is overtly atmospheric and threatening. This natural conflict is a marvelous complement to the story. The music is also worthy of note, Chris Green tackling the heavy emotion of the story with a skillful score that emboldens the drama and picks out the poignancy excellently.
Overall a promising outing from indie film director Stanford, that carries enough emotive weaponry to compel audiences, but lingers in the moment a little too long at times.
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