There are ways and ways to provoke someone’s inspiration. Stories like that of Louis Zamperini, the protagonist of “Invincible”, another one of the good war dramas directed by Angelina Jolie, however, do much more than that. Jolie, who gives the impression of being really passionate about the theme, embodying with taste and conviction the aura of the beautiful woman who proves to herself and the world that she goes beyond aesthetics, she glimpsed in the plot, dissected without clemency by another woman, Laura Hillenbrand , the chance to liquidate many birds with one stone. The novel on which the feature is based, whose publication, in 2010, ignited the public’s interest in the central figure of the plot – “Invincible – A True Story of Courage, Survival and Redemption”, the book by Hillenbrand, did not take long to become a best seller —, is, coincidentally or not, one of the most filmic ones ever, with even somewhat boringly unnecessary narrations about the deterioration of the hero’s physics at a given moment in history. The director does not leave it for less and takes advantage of the vein signed by Hillenbrand in order to do one of the things she learned over a quarter of a century listening to the instructions of the countless directors with whom she has already worked: to create unusual and dynamic angles for what is static by nature.
Already in the opening it is noted that “Invincible” does not have the slightest intention of being just another war film. The superb sequence of bombing raids during an air battle in World War II (1939-1945), the first of superb screenplay contributions by brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, Richard Lagravenese and William Nicholson, points to vigorous, ruddy, diligent soldiers in the craft of that the country entrusted them, in the full enjoyment of their mental faculties, capable of one or another silly joke amidst the hail of bullets they dodge, interrupted in the middle to better perform the service. These are scenes that cannot be dispensed with in order to absorb the tragedy into which the film turns minutes later, when the left turbine of the somewhat scrapped B-29 Superfortress that Captain Russell Allen Phillips, Phil, has at his disposal for to charge against Axis troops at some unknown latitude in the North Pacific. Domhnall Gleeson is “the” name in this segment, capturing well the independent, haughty, noble spirit, but above all of an incorrigible humanist, incapable of thinking of himself before guaranteeing the well-being of his subordinates. As if they had taken zero or one when from the dress rehearsal, the figure of Gleeson becomes more and more secondary in favor of the big star of the film, a promise that, fortunately, came true.
Jack O’Connell had already been on the road for some time when “Invincible” premiered on January 15, 2015, and the course of those eight years is marked by careful choices, in which he was able to put his talent to the test, challenge himself in progressively complex works and sweep audiences and critics alike with truly extraordinary performances. Protagonist of the plot’s second and third twists (that one much more vibrant than this one), not to mention the outcome, O’Connell’s soldier Louis Zamperini is a typical case of a character who finds his interpreter, and vice versa. Zamperini’s trajectory as a powerhouse in athletics from the mid to late 1930s, interrupted precisely because he enlisted to fight in front of the Allies, comes to light as flashes in the moments of revolting agony that the good guy goes through — at a certain block in the film , Jolie takes advantage of her star showing a distressingly skeletal O’Connell, forced to support a log almost as heavy as he is, a Christic metaphor that, despite being uncomfortable, appealing, fits like a glove in stories like this. In reverse, Takamasa Ishihara, also known as Miyavi, shines in the skin of the villain Mutsushiro Watanabe, the Japanese officer who abuses Zamperini in the most ignominious ways, without shying away from revealing a psychopathic personality, and, who knows, a hidden passion.
The contrast of the youthful beauty of those boys, which Jolie explores ad nauseam in the prolegomena, juxtaposed with what they become as the story takes shape, is very reminiscent of the central argument of “Nothing New on the Front” (2022), the adaptation of Edward Berger for the eponymous novel by the German Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), winner of the Oscar for Best International Film 2023. The boys portrayed by Remarque, disillusioned, hungry, precociously embittered and without hope, trying to survive the Great War (1914- 1918), are the same ones represented by Louis Zamperini (1917-2014), a hero like no other, in Hollywood or in real life.
Direction: Angelina Jolie