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May 2, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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Gripping Danish Cannes winner Armadillo offers little variation – in both theme and content – to hoards of war depictions already committed to celluloid. It plumbs similar depths as those before it; the visceral adrenaline of battle (and the addictive tendencies it triggers), the dissociative coping mechanisms of its soldiers, and the underlying camaraderie present that makes a hell like this habitable. Yet Armadillo’s point of difference is that it’s actually real.

And it’s to the film’s towering credit that it remains no less compelling for it. A film equally as focused on those transcendent moments of war as it is with the psychological and philosophical effects of it, Armadillo’s filmmakers are dedicated to the full experience of its soldiers; meaning the cameras stay rolling even as the bullets fly and the bombs drop. It’s truly something to see a vision of war, not only so immediate, but so personal – this is some tense, vivid shit that proves difficult to shake.

Also to praise is the lack of blatant opinion; there’s no political stance here, nor is there editorial narration to punctuate or direct its content. It’s silly to argue that director Janus Metz Pedersen is not framing his footage into a distinct vision, but its definitely one that feels fair, and truthful and above all; human. This is a film about personal struggle above national and Pedersen makes sure he presents his soldiers as they are; be it consuming copious amounts of porn, riding motorbikes or sweating it out in the heat of gunfire.
Even as audience preference will probably continue to lie with those grander, more ‘cinematic’ portrayals of conflict, look no further than Armadillo for authenticity. Consistently engaging and challenging – it’s perceptive cinéma vérité that occasionally borders on sublime.

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