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Friday, July 01, 2022

Movie review: Against The Sun

The filmmaker’s challenge is to keep us with his lads, without being overcome with a feeling of familiarity.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi |
Updated: March 7, 2015 1:38:18 am
The filmmaker’s challenge is to keep us with his lads, without being overcome with a feeling of familiarity. The filmmaker’s challenge is to keep us with his lads, without being overcome with a feeling of familiarity.

Star cast: Garrett Dilahunt, Tom Felton, Jake Abel

Director: Brian Falk

It is 1942, the middle of the Second World War, at the point where it could have gone either way. Three US airmen find themselves in a tiny raft in the South Pacific ocean, miles from habitation. Because it is based on a true story, we know the outcome before going into the movie. It is a story of quiet heroism, and a struggle for survival that ends happily.

The filmmaker’s challenge is to keep us with his lads, without being overcome with a feeling of familiarity. There have been many similar inspirational tales, most recently Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, of people battling the elements and coming up trumps. Against The Sun wards off ennui by keeping things simple: here’s the task at hand, these are the obstacles, and lets the protagonists get on with it.

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The three men are bobbing along the biggest stretch of water on the planet with no food, no water, no first aid. They face marauding sharks and terrible storms, and though you know they will come out alive, you still want the man who let the team down swim to safety, willing the shark to go away; you still want the younger man to keep spouting poetry; and the third one to just keep going.

The interplay between the men is interesting, too. There is the expected initial shock, reproach and recrimination, and then a long period of settling in, where they learn how to collect water (yes, the stuff that comes out one end of the body is water too), how to fashion a hook to catch a fish larger than their raft (the fish looks plasticky-fake but still you are happy because it will keep the men alive for a while), and how to keep the faith when all seems dark.

And Lee’s Life Of Pi did almost the same thing with a boy and a Bengal tiger. Against The Sun takes no recourse to magical realism; the men are burnt, starved and delirious by the end of their ordeal. When they finally sight land, and stumble on to the sand, they have spent 34 days in the ocean. That’s called luck and sheer triumph of will.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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