Genre: Legal Drama/Political
Year Released: 2009
Distributor: Film Movement
Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: R
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Welcome to Sarajevo, Hotel Rwanda, Omagh, Witnesses
-Kerry Fox and Stephen Dillane have both appeared in the movie Welcome to Sarajevo. It’s interesting because part of Storm takes place in Bosnia and they do go to Sarajevo early on in the film.
-Yes, Stephen Dillane AKA Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones is in this movie working for the ICC.
-Croatian actor Drazen Kuhn who plays the villain Goran Duric has also also appeared in the Croatian movie (which was also distributed in America through Film Movement) Witnesses. Both Storm and Witnesses deal with the various elements of the Yugoslav conflicts of the 90s despite being focused on different countries and different time periods.
-Four languages are spoken in Storm: English, German, Bosnian, and Serbian.
World cinema has a place in my heart. It’s like tasting food from other countries. This film that I came across was another Film Movement distributed piece is none other than Storm. It’s a political/legal drama where a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court named Hannah Maynard is in charge of a case to convict a Serbian politician/potential war criminal of crimes relating to the Bosnian Conflict (specifically in Republika Sprska) that involved the deaths of several Bosniaks in the area. Making matters worse is her client Alen Hajdarevic committing suicide after he believed that the defendant Goran Duric would get away with these alleged crimes. Hannah has to get his sister Mira Arendt, who immigrated to Germany to participate even though she’s enjoying life with her family.
I will say that Hannah Maynard and Mira Arendt were the standout characters given their personalities and the quality acting. I wasn’t familiar with their respective actresses, but I will be checking out more of their filmography whenever I get the chance. Kerry Fox as Hannah Maynard was great and she may be an unintentionally deconstructive character. Instead of some Ally McBeal or dare I say Legally Blonde type personality, she’s a world-weary, no-nonsense protagonist who’s cynical despite being dedicated to her job. She’s also middle-aged and slightly overweight, so she would never be a leading character by Hollywood’s standards of heroines. Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca as Mira Arendt was definitely a highlight. I will admit that I wasn’t sure at first when I saw her, but she conveyed so much believable emotion in her role especially when she’s confronted about the court case by Hannah. Part of me was also confused as to why she spoke with a German accent instead of a Bosnian one with the exception of the times where she spoke Bosnian, but I thought that was fridge brilliance. Mira claims that Germany “was her home” instead of Bosnia, so that explained why she talked in that accent whenever she spoke English and her marrying a German guy solidified that. It was a metaphor of her wanting to forget about her past in that country. Once Hannah tells Mira that “It won’t stop until you stop running.”, Mira’s facial expression was priceless.
The plotting was quite masterful and it uses several plot twists. I’ll confess that some of them I legitimately didn’t see coming like some of the ones in the final act of the film. There was even one betrayal that came out of nowhere that surprisingly made sense given one of the political subplots involving some of the Eastern Bloc countries getting UN membership. Some of the bureaucracy added some conflict like how the President was apathetic to the case which was shocking given that he was in charge of the same organization that convicted the Nazis decades ago and where several dictators faced justice right in The Hague. Even some of the dialog added on to the story in different ways. When Mira gives some new information that Hannah didn’t know about and that it should be investigated, she asks the question about Duric’s crimes: “What happens to women in times of war?” That line was a bombshell which gave the case even more gravitas.
Storm’s cinematography and usage of plot twists are exceptional, but there were some things that took my enjoyment out of this movie. Duric’s character was very limited in presence. Sure, you see him get arrested and being in the courtroom, but you never see him that much. I felt that his character should have been shown more especially given the things he would be charged for. I do admit that the ending was slightly anti-climactic. Sure, it was a situation that was believable, but I felt that they could have done more in that courtroom scene and the aftermath. This isn’t some typical “rah rah feel good” ending that one would expect, but it was a bit of a whimper even though the main characters had some peace in the end.
If you want some quality political and legal thrillers that are better than the typical ones in that genre on TV or the movies, then I would recommend Storm. The acting is top-notch, and the plots twists will have you guessing, but the ending while not horrible, could have been better. Definitely worth watching.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you like political elements to your dramas
-Excellent acting and plotting
-Well researched details about the Bosnian conflict and it’s ramifications
-The ending could be a bit of a downer
-Lacking supporting characters
-The subplot with witness protection could have had more meaning
Final Score: 8/10 Points
Content Warning: Definitely older teens and up. This is a mature movie with it’s themes. There is some strong language peppered in and there is a brief sex scene early in the film. However, the big themes revolve around massacres in Eastern European wars and the revelation that rape camps were used against some of the women in Mira’s backstory get mentioned.
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