Disquieting and shocking, Redacted unfolds with a documentary realism in the northern Iraq city of Samarra.
Director Brian De Palma (Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia) has had his flamboyant way in Hollywood, especially in the horror genre. Yet, he conveys the terror of imagined circumstances that mirror the alacrity of Vietnam in his Casualties of War.
Here, the atrocity that this faux cinema verite is constructed around is a 2006 rape and murder of an unsuspecting teenager by an American soldier, as well as the slaughtering of her mother, sister, and grandfather.
Apparently, no professional thespians (like a Josh Hartnett) fill out the roles, so the stereotypical parts are played broadly. It seems to fit DePalma's extreme perspective and feeling on the ongoing conflict.
The branch of the military isn't really clear (or perhaps important to the filmmakers) but the collection of a video diary so a cameraman could attend film school at USC becomes sad and sordid in this controversial docudrama.
There are characters like the ones in Casualties played by Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox, the former more crazed and the latter more of a good samaritan.
Daily life from a checkpoint and reconnaissance activity to residences is depicted in that shaky handheld style. One sees what it might be like to be in a position to encounter insurgent traffic and expose jihadists.
Though his approach might seem a bit forced, DePalma puts some insight into the inhumanity on both sides. The result may not connect with the desired visceral blow, yet the interplay gets into the ugliness with more gritty insight than something like The Kingdom. Maybe, the director works surprisingly best in his use of multimedia tools, especially in Web cameras, cell phones, and video postings to capture the continuing psychological wounds of war.