IN late 1941, RAAF 453 Squadron flying Brewster Buffalos (generally classed by pilots as the worst fighter ever built) is facing Mitsubishi Zero fighters. And Flt-Lt. Jim (Khan Chittenden) finds himself suspended by the shrouds of his parachute in a tree somewhere in Malaya.
Getting down to ground level is one problem. Getting back to his squadron is quite another.
Writing on the morning of April 25 about writer/director Aaron Wilson’s feature debut, I could not help thinking about how little we who never had to go to war know about the reality of that dreadful experience.
Wilson’s film tells us about not just Jim’s meeting in the jungle with Chinese soldier Seng (Tzu-yi Mo) cut off from his unit, but also the jungle environment, silent, lush, secret. These are worthy themes. Two young men, unable to understand each other’s words, at risk of discovery by Japanese troops sweeping an area about which they have no useful geographic information and only Jim’s small pocket compass (of little help on its own), without food and only the water in Jim’s bottle, unable to defend themselves (although more likely to be wounded or killed had they been armed).
The film is slow, a parable of two men connected only by a common enemy. It’s been done before (John Boorman’s 1968 “Hell In The Pacific”), a rather different context yet exposing the same issues. It’s never boring, but neither do its lightweight complexities energise the drama for the audience’s delectation.
At Palace Electric
[Photo via the Canopy website]