Family can be a tough thing at the best of times. Whoever says differently, has definitely never had to live the daily lives most of us do. I believe in part, this is due to the pressure of being told that no matter what, family trumps all else. I can't count the amount of people I've met that really don't like their parents - or even siblings. Had they not been family, they surely would not have been friends.
Obviously I'm not saying that every family hates one and other. I'm simply saying that things are not cut and dry... especially when confronted with a tragic situation. More often than not, if a family is strained at the best of times, it takes a certain member of that family to hold everyone together. Once that person is gone, people tend to become estranged. Especially if that glue of a family member is taken before their time - or in this case, they take their own life.
"I Miss The War" jumps head-first into this category. An essentially estranged trio of sisters, gather together once a year to celebrate the life of their deceased mother. A woman who pushed them to be the best they could be, and then ended her own life. Writer, director Andrew Walsh, crafts a story demonstrating the awkward family dynamic of those who may love one and other - but really don't like each other. The film also attempts to showcase the effects of suicide for those left behind. Some tough concepts for a low budget, independent short film. Hell - these are tough concepts for any film. Mostly, "I Miss The War" does an excellent job. This film fares much better than I was expecting and overall? Some really nice work was done here. Of that there is no question.
As interesting as "I Miss The War" was to watch, as I watched it, by the end credits I was left with a nagging feeling. That feeling of unfinished business. That's really the best way to describe it and here's why I think that is. Nothing is really resolved. Our characters are in the same state at the start of the film, as they are during the end. Maybe worse off actually. It feels as if we're introduced - and then the film ends. Almost as if this were an extended scene from a larger movie. I also can't understand the final shot. Literally... a one or two second shot of Annie coming into a room... and that's it. It felt like a shot that was meant to be cut from the film, but was accidentally left in. It just made no sense to me, and further solidified that unfinished feeling I had.
Aside from that, I also noticed a massive audio sync issue during the second half of the film. I couldn't help but compare it to those old Bruce Lee films. The ones that had Bruce's lips still moving long after the dialog had finished. It was very distracting. Other audio issues include the clear transitions between re-recorded dialog and the original recordings from the production.
Visually? "I Miss The War" actually played really well. Showcasing some of the truly great performances from the cast. Were these actors really all family? In real life? Because it sure seemed that way. Their interactions with each other felt real. Like a real family under stress - and attending something they really didn't want to attend. Well... Annie and Charlotte that is, Stella felt completely like that bubbly girl we all know - that has more than one reason for being present.
The men fared just as well. I got a real kick out of their interaction. I know these guys! Not Adrian and Raymond, but those personalities. Overall, some really fine work from the cast. Period.
At the end of the day "I Miss The War" inhabits the familiar territory so many of us live in. So much so, that Andrew Walsh's film had no problem keeping me watching. Had that unfinished feeling not be present? I suppose that's a subject not even worth writing about, since it's not the case. Overall, a pleasantly above average indie flick I have no problem recommending. Great work.