Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Unbroken" an Earnest, Noble Tribute

By Skip Sheffield

You can’t fault Angelina Jolie for bad intentions. “Unbroken” is as noble a film as we have seen in years, and it’s all true.
“Unbroken” is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star whose B-24 bomber was shot down over the Pacific in World War II. After surviving 47 days at sea in a rubber raft, Zamperini was captured by Japanese and sent to an internment camp, where he spent two and a half tortuous years.
Angelina Jolie directs and championed this film, for which Ethan and Joel Coen wrote the screenplay. The Coen brothers are best known for dark, funny, offbeat films such as "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski."
"Unbroken" is as earnest and serious as you can get. Thereby lies the problem. It's not very exciting. Sure, it starts off with a bang with the desperate last moments before Zamperini's plane plunged into the sea. But then we flash back to Zamperini's high school years and the ethnic slurs he suffered for being Italian. It seems almost quaint now, but the discrimination against Zamperini just made him stronger.
Jack O'Connell, who neither looks nor sounds Italian, plays Louis Zamperini. He is a very good-looking guy, which might be one of the reasons Jolie cast him.
The other major player in a war of wills is Takamasa Ishihara as Zamperelli's Japanese tormento
r, Mutsushiro Watanbe. One of the most satisfying things about "Unbroken" is the depiction of the grudging admiration that grows between the two enemies.
Louis Zamperelli wasn't the only American hero of World War II. There were thousands of them. It is good to honor them while they remain alive. One by one "The Greatest Generation" is dying off. I salute Angelina Jolie for saluting them.