Harrison's Flowers

"Excellent"

Harrison's Flowers Review


In Elie Chouraqui's compelling new film Harrison's Flowers, the life of a war photojournalist doesn't just contain hints of peril; it's depicted as a task tantamount to serving as a soldier on the front lines of war. In this case, the parallel isn't constructed as a metaphor -- it's offered as stark reality.

Set at the beginning of the 1990s, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Harrison Floyd (David Straithairn) has reached a pinnacle. He is revered by professional associates and enjoys the unconditional love of his wife, Sarah (Andie MacDowell), and their two young children. He appears on his way to career burnout though, a point hammered home at an awards banquet, when he presents the Pulitzer Prize to his best friend and fellow photojournalist Yeager (Elias Koteas). That night, Harrison is confronted by an angry, young photographer, Kyle (Adrien Brody), who tears into the man for taking the path of least resistance to find fame, while his journalist brethren are literally dying for their work on personal assignments in dangerous territories.

Such territories are just what Harrison is on his way to encounter when Newsweek, where Sarah works as a photo editor, assigns him to cover one final combat assignment: The rising "skirmishes" in Croatia. Shortly after his arrival, the people who sent him on this mission learn that the supposed minor battles have given way to a full scale Civil War, which they think has claimed Harrison as a casualty.

Unable to accept this information and believing that she has spotted Harrison on a news broadcast, Sarah embarks on a gravely treacherous journey to locate her husband. Coming face to face with conditions unimaginable in her worst nightmares, Sarah's horrific plight is aided when she unexpectedly meets up with Kyle, and his Irish colleague Stevenson (Brendan Gleeson). Yeager learns of Sarah's actions and also travels to Croatia to help. As a group, armed only with cameras, they continue the quest to reach Harrison, and in the process become witness to unspeakable atrocities in the depths of a literal hell-on-earth.

Harrison's Flowers succeeds on two major levels: Personalizing the tragedies of war and properly framing individual concerns in the larger context of massive human devastation. Chouraqui imbues the two worlds that comprise the film with vastly different visual styles -- the chaos of war captured by a jittery handheld camera, while smooth Steadicam shots and static compositions frame the relative normalcy of the Newsweek office. The result is richly atmospheric and deeply jarring.

Adrien Brody does a magnificent job of injecting range into his outcast character, which easily could have fallen prey to textbook conventions. Andie Macdowell is adequate in the lead role, but as the film progresses, the focus broadens and wisely doesn't ask any individual character to carry the load. Chouraqui makes no bones about his chief concern, and his treatment of the subject of war so carefully and thoughtfully avoids any traces of cinematic sensationalism. Only minutes after our first glimpse of terror in this ravaged country, we want out.

However, I'm disappointed by the film's conclusion. It has a false ring to it and isn't worthy of the movie which precedes it. After everything Chouraqui subjects his audience to, it feels like a cop-out, and it troubled me to the point where I considered reducing my rating by another half-star. But, after some debate, I find it justifiable to partially turn a blind eye.

Harrison's Flowers distinguishes itself as an engrossing, moving account of the strength of the human will overcoming the direst of circumstances. And those circumstances are portrayed in a purely genuine and gripping manner that speaks volumes about the humanity of the artist behind this creation.

Harrison's smooching.



Harrison's Flowers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th January 2001

Box Office USA: $1.6M

Distributed by: Universal Focus

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 44

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Sarah Lloyd, as Yeager Pollack, as Marc Stevenson, as Kyle Morris, as Harrison Lloyd

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.