July 22 - This Movie Rocks
Dir: Paul Greengrass
Starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Jonas Strand Gravli, Jon Olgarden
From Sunday Bloody Sunday to United 93, via a bunch of Bournes and a Captain Phillips, tales of contemporary terrorism are very much the wheelhouse Paul Greengrass has built for himself. And his latest takes us to that titular tragic day in Oslo in 2011 when Anders Breivik (a hauntingly good Danielsen Lie) set off a bomb in town before heading to the island of Utoya where he shot a further 69 (mostly) teenagers on a Labour retreat. In other words, don’t expect a Greengrass romcom anytime soon.
The first half hour of Greengrass’ film- the attack(s) themselves - is the most powerful and visceral opening of any movie since Saving Private Ryan, even if its power is felt more than it's seen. This is by no means gratuitous or gory, but steeped in a creeping terror and an overwhelming sense of helplessness and dread that makes it all the more powerful.
Again, like Private Ryan, this is by far the movie’s most powerful section, as the film moves to life after the attacks it loses some focus and – at a running time of 133 mins – could do with a judicious trim. As the film progresses, it focuses on the arrest and interrogation of Breivik, as his ice-cold agenda and firmly held beliefs are revealed, something that Danielsen Lie delivers with incredible conviction. The other focus of the film becomes one of the survivors of Utoya, Viljar Hanssen, a young man whose life is forever altered by the events, and superbly played by Gravli.
Its third act, it once again reverts to the compelling nature of the first, as Greengrass takes us into a courtroom drama that is supremely riveting, largely through those two central, and opposing, performances, but also by the presence of Olgarden, as the world-weary lawyer required to defend the mass murderer and struggling with his own ethical sense in doing so.
22 July brilliantly captures an appalling moment in recent history, and valiantly strives to emphasise its relevance to today, with Greengrass eager to convey how swiftly the extreme right has started to take hold of many parts of Europe in the few short years since these horrific events.
Despite some loungers, it is impossible not to be moved by it both emotionally and intellectually.
July 22 can be seen from October 10 - on both Netflix and a limited theatrical run
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