July 16, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

FILM REVIEW

GUY RITCHIE’S THE COVENANT

Rated R
123 Minutes
Released April 21 st

By Kathy Whitney Boole

Well, if I had directed this film, I would have put my name in the title too. The way this courageous story is told in this movie is modern-day mythology. It’s a well-conceived tale, based on a true story, and on tragic developments in Afghanistan, a country whose citizens have been surrounded by war for most of the past 44 years. This story is about a US soldier and his Afghan interpreter, and it cuts through the bigger governmental picture to put a focus on a story of personal heroism – and director Guy Ritchie is in his element with heroes.

The movie is beautifully made. The extraordinary cinematography and editing pull you into the action and seamlessly keep you in the rhythm and pace of the narrative. Each character’s movements are visualized closely by extensive hand-held camera work, which might have been distracting to audiences many years ago, but with today’s ubiquitous social media reels and video games, it is now part of our collective visual vernacular. The precision of the editing allows you to stay in the story second by second without losing focus. The transitions are smooth, and the music is superbly composed to hit the emotional notes of each scene while drumbeats punctuate the heartbeat of the narrative.

The acting is powerful. We already know that Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays “Sergeant John Kinley,” is one of those actors who can completely transform his being into his role. The other star is relatively unfamiliar to US audiences – Dar Salim, who plays the interpreter, “Ahmed.” Salim was born in Baghdad and his parents fled to Denmark when he was 6 years old, where he still resides. He has served as a Danish Royal Guard and he is a trained pilot. He studied acting at the William Esper Studio in New York and has been acting on Danish TV and film for 20 years and appeared on Game of Thrones in 2011. At the premiere of this film, Salim told reporters that he hoped audiences would recognize that US soldiers and their interpreters “did put their lives at stake every day on the ground…trying to do the right thing. From the bottom of my heart, I hope they (the audience) can recognize that in this movie.”

Photos: Courtesy of Kathy Whitney Boole

Guy Ritchie did not have a smooth relationship with the British educational system growing up, as he was dyslexic. He left school at 15 and worked entry-level jobs in film and TV before being hired to direct commercials. He wrote and directed his first film in 1998 and he has consistently directed films ever since.

He is an artist whose first language is cinema, and he speaks many different dialects, so to speak, as his movies have bridged many genres. Fun fact: He owns The Wild Kitchen, which sells outdoor cooking equipment and tents. During an interview, the two stars, Gyllenhaal and Salim, recalled that in between shooting scenes, they would find Ritchie in a tent on the side of a hill cooking on a portable grill, and he would invite them in for a meal.

Photos: Courtesy of Kathy Whitney Boole

Here are Guy Ritchie’s wise words on his approach to the art of filmmaking. “My creative process has never been something I can put into words. It’s very random, very scattered, and can sometimes lead down dark alleyways and dead ends. What I will say is I think any director needs to immerse himself in both real life and in history to open up creative processes fully. And you must be prepared for the reality that any creative process worth its salt needs to be revised, reworked, and, on occasion, thrown out the window entirely.”

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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