The filmmakers' aim here is to satirize the often clueless and cruel actions of U.S. forces and underscore the absurd horrors of the war. A light touch can be effective — think of Michael Moore's oeuvre or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. But Tucker and Epperlein go too far, lightening things up to the extent that, if you haven't gleaned what's going on in Iraq from other sources, this tongue-in-cheek story would be too surreal to fathom.
Interviews with Yunis and one of his sympathetic jailers, Army Reserve MP Benjamin Thompson, come off like they've been scripted. Looking bemused and using conspicuously broken English, Yunis calmly states, “I am not terrorist or monster. I am not Dracula. I am not a monkey or cow. I am a man.” Furthermore, whether probable cause existed for his detention is never addressed; we're to assume it was bogus, and his treatment isn't detailed.
Eventually, one starts to wonder if
is actually spoofing all the earnest documentaries and sober news reports about Iraq. Raising questions about media coverage and the information we're fed during wartime is a worthy goal. But, if that wasn't part of their intention, the filmmaker's methodology backfires by undercutting the credibility of the testimony presented and overshadowing any actual miscarriage of justice. Their recounting allows for the possibility that the imprisonment was an inconsequential anomaly and that the situation in Iraq isn't as bad as we're led to believe.
Distributor: Truly Indie
Directors/Screenwriters/Producers: Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker
Rating: PG-13 for some strong language and mature thematic elements
Running time: 72 min.
Release date: March 23, 2007 NY/Wash, March 30 Chi/SF, April 6 LA