in a better world: maybe a little vague

Here’s my review of In a Better World, which was a good example of the kind of movie that seems to be saying something, but you can never figure out what exactly. It reminds me of the idea of film being “strategically ambiguous,” an idea David Bordwell develops in a long blog post (jump to the section by searching for “strategically ambiguous”):

A Hollywood film tends to pose sharp moral polarities and then fuzz or fudge or rush past settling them. For instance, take The Bourne Ultimatum: Yes, the espionage system is corrupt, but there is one honorable agent who will leak the information, and the press will expose it all, and the malefactors will be jailed.

And so, in this way, a film can avoid indicting the system as a whole: It’s only ever a matter of weeding out a few bad apples. (To give credit where it’s due, I’ll say that Joan Didion mentions this idea, as well, though to be honest I can’t quite remember where.)

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