"Civil War" is an isolating, information-starved psychological horror

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/04/14/civil-war-nightmarish-exploration-of-war-photographers-experiences.html


I haven’t decided if I want to see this or not. It has an impressive cast, which seems to be pretty much the norm for an A24 film. Speaking of which, at what point will they be big enough that it’s not considered an indie studio anymore?


Yeah, I’m still really skeptical about the whole premise of ignoring the larger context of the conflict in the film. The reality is that journalists are not objectively capturing events, but are shaping and shaped by the events that they cover. Me and @milliefink were just noting that point in another thread…

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Yeah, see that is why I’m skeptical of this film. This review I posted argued it made the film more powerful and one that everyone can get into and learn from:

He also mentions a book about violence in civil wars, which essentially argues that the violence of such wars tend to have their own rationality, and that it’s not ideologically driven. Rather people act out of “rational self-interest” (which, frankly, THAT sets off red flags to me), and that civilians will align with those that they believe are going to protect them… I’m not so sure about that, although I’ve not read the book…

Although, maybe I won’t be able to watch the film, as films shot from that POV tend to trigger my motion sickness.


Isn’t it also hinted that Texas and California are on the same side of this particular civil war…?? (and there’s some “northwest” syndicate, which i’ll leap to presume includes my Seattle location, which has gone ‘Maoist’??) Also this is a tricky plot-line for these political times to indicate that both sides are equally violent, when it sure seems like the non-fiction ‘model’ is mostly only one side asserting violence.


saw it, and its actually not a “big” movie; the war itself is just a few scenes which are somewhat scaled for the “big” screen…it kinda still feels indie. its much more “intimate” (in lack of a better term) and “small” than I expected. and its…pretty bitter; its war photographer in a civil war which just happens to be in the us. like any other modern conflict somewhere.


Apparently this film is supposed to be more about war correspondents and war photojournalists than about the war itself. The writer’s parents, I read, were photojournalists and spent some time covering wars. But I dunno. I’m also skeptical. There is one scene where Jesse Plemons plays a racist soldier asking what kind of Americans the journalists are, so some ideology is in there. Interestingly, Plemons wasn’t supposed to play that role. Or any role. Some other actor had been cast but had to back out at the last minute. Plemons was available because he was already there, taking care of his and Kirsten Dunst’s children.


the film covers only the last 2-3 days of the conflict, and just from the journalists perspective. there are spare dialogs about the nature of the conflict, its made pretty clear the president is basically a fascist/dictator and presumably californa and texas are common in their meaning of freedom.


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yeah, which is a good choice to focus on, I do agree with that. But that doesn’t mean that ignoring the larger context of what caused and drives the conflict is helpful? Would we ignore the context of how journalists in Gaza were being killed in overwhelming numbers?

Yeah, exactly.

That’s interesting! I like Plemons, he’s a good heavy, in part because he’s kind of a got a sweet face… like he’s your kid brother, or your goofy friend, but he keeps getting cast in these roles where he ends up doing some fucked up shit (Breaking Bad, for one).


After his terrifying performance as a neo-Nazi in the Breaking Bad universe, this seems like typecasting.


I’ve just been to see it and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is a story about journalists and journalism and specifically about war corrospondents, it’s not a story about civil war particularly, it just happens to be set in a civil war.

I was aware going into the movie that it wouldn’t be explicit about who was fighting who or why. This seems to be a point picked up on by all the reviewers, but it’s really not terribly important to plot. You might assume that the story is playing both-sidesism but this isn’t the case. As the movie progresses. you may not get much insight as to who the combatants are, but you get a pretty clear idea of who is right and who is wrong.

And the ending is unambiguous and satisfying.

It’s a good story and an exciting movie experience and I recommend it to anyone, particularly to @Mindysan33. (I think it would be right up your street and it would be a shame if the reviews put you off.)


He played a similarly terrifying character in the Black Mirror episode USS Calister.




If “the lack of partisan politics is part of the film’s power,” then why wasn’t it set in a fictional nation?

It specifically wants to invoke the current political turmoil to exploit it without having the courage to define why that turmoil is happening. It’s not objective, it’s amoral.

Garland is playing on our fears for money, and I have quite enough of that shit in the real world thanks.


my guess is the movie is inspired by this kind of article

but I’ve not seen the movie, yet


I don’t know… I’m skeptical, honestly. As @Nash_Bozard noted above, not discussing the politics is deeply troubling, because they do matter. I might see it at some point anyway, to judge for myself, but we’ll see.

But how was the camera work? Lots of shaky POV shots, because if that’s the case, I doubt I’ll see it, as that tends to trigger my motion sickness. I literally puked after seeing Blair Witch in the theater for example, and had to stop watching the original Cloverfield, too.




Yeah, that seems weird to me. Who’s a maoist now-a-days… everyone knows that the kids in Seattle are all into Trotsky or Gramsci!


SEE ALSO: plemons playing basically the same deadpan psycho on the “Fargo” TV series :thinking:


its actually a lot of static shots and some action scenes with some shaky cam, my guess less than 10 minutes (could even be only 5) were somewhat in that category, and nothing like cloverfield or blairwitch in that regard.