THE SITUATION
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Connie Nielsen as Anna and Mido Hamada as Zaid in
THE SITUATION

© 2007 Shadow Distribution
The present conflict in Iraq has been the
subject of numerous documentaries over the
last several years, but almost no English-
language fiction films have tried to address the
topic. Yes, last year saw the release of
HOME OF THE BRAVE which began in Iraq, but
the thrust of that movie was focusing on the
difficulties returning soldiers faced. So,
THE
SITUATION
, directed by Philip Haas and
scripted by journalist Wendell Steavenson (who
has experience as a reporter in the Middle
East), is something of an anomaly, since it is
set entirely in Iraq during the American
occupation.

THE SITUATION opens with an incident of
brutality. Two young Iraqi boys are caught out
after curfew and a group of American soldiers
guarding a checkpoint at a bridge in Samarra
toss the two teenagers into the river. As it
turns out, only one could swim. The other boy
drowns. This incident becomes the impetus for
journalist Anna Molyneaux (Connie Nielsen) to
investigate the incident, which in turn brings
her into a much wider circle of deceit, murder,
misunderstanding and further violence.

Anna is having an on-again, off-again fling with
an idealistic American intelligence officer, Dan
Murphy (Damien Lewis), but as events unfold,
she finds herself drawn to Iraqi photographer
Zaid (Mido Hamada).

The deeper Anna's investigation gets, the more
unclear things become. When one of her
sources turns up murdered, she sets off to
discover who his killer or killers are. Of course
that jeopardizes her life and leads to a
climactic confrontation which has tragic
repercussions.

THE SITUATION contains some clunky
dialogue and the plot is complicated, but then,
so is the American presence in Iraq. As in life,
there are no good guys or bad guys, just people
who make choices -- sometimes out of
self-preservation or self-promotion, sometimes
out for altruistic reasons. Nielsen is a little
problematic in the lead role; I had some trouble
believing her as a globe-trotting journalist. The
male characters come off better, particularly
Lewis as a man struggling to bring some form
of humanity to the turbulent region. Hamada is
fine as the dashing photographer. There's fine
support from John Slattery and Tom McCarthy
as American soldiers, Driss Roukh as an Iraqi
resistance leader, Mahmoud El Lozy as an Iraqi
diplomat out to protect his own interests, and
Nasser Memarzia as one of Anna's sources.

THE SITUATION is by no means a perfect
movie, but it does tackle difficult issues and
makes clear that there are no easy answers.
The filmmakers are to be commended for taking
on this subject while the conflict and its
attendant tragedies continue to unfold on a
daily basis.
Rating:               B-
MPAA Rating:      NONE
Running time:     106 mins.