So far, Iraq documentaries haven't taught us anything new, said Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune. But James Longley's Iraq in Fragments "comes as close as we probably can to seeing for ourselves what's really happening there." The film's title refers not just to its subject'”the potential for a split into three nations, Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish'”but also to its format. Longley presents his stories in three parts. The first follows a Baghdad 11-year-old from work at an auto shop to school, where he has failed to graduate from the first grade. The second documents raids by an al-Sadr'“led militia in Nasiriyah, and the third takes up residence in a rural Kurdish community where the issue of statehood pits generation against generation. The movie is so beautifully shot it sometimes looks like a Hollywood drama, said Nicolas Rapold in The New York Sun. But that means it "frequently threatens the limits of poeticizing so slippery a subject." It may seem like a worthy plan to take an Iraqi point of view, but that can "obscure as much as it enlightens." Actually, this is the tactile, honest movie we've needed from Iraq, said David Edelstein in New York. By committing to imagery, rather than speech, to understand the country, Longley succeeds where raw data has failed. "When you finally feel this place, you understand how little you understand."
Rating: Not Rated
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