Triage -- Film Review

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Filmmaker Danis Tanovic, whose first feature "No Man's Land" was one of the breakout hits of the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival (it went on to win an Oscar), returns with his latest work.

But where his debut effort was a sharply satirical take on the folly of war -- the Bosnia and Herzegovina conflict circa 1993 -- "Triage," about an Irish war photographer who's emotionally crippled by his experiences in Kurdistan, takes familiar subject matter and presents it in a largely unremarkable manner.

A deeply felt performance by Colin Farrell, not to mention a surprising one by the masterful Christopher Lee, ultimately can't compensate for the needlessly verbose script and listless pace.

While Farrell's presence should ensure distribution deals (E1 Entertainment holds Canadian rights), the Irish-Spanish co-production will likely be a tougher sell for audiences.

Farrell's Mark Walsh is a gung-ho war photographer in the late 1980s who seemingly knows no image too horrendous where his camera is concerned.

After being wounded in the line of duty, he returns to Dublin a haunted shadow of his former self and without his best mate and fellow shooter, David (Jamie Sives).

Determined to get to the root of his mental deterioration and David's whereabouts, his Spanish wife (Paz Vega) enlists the aid of her grandfather (Lee), a psychiatrist who worked under Franco's fascist regime.

While Tanovic has an undeniable gift for potent visuals, his adaptation of the Scott Anderson novel is considerably less assured, with over-written dialogue that continually comments on the obvious.

Farrell, who dropped something like 40 pounds for the role (which was why he looked so emaciated in last year's tabloid photos) certainly turns in a committed if somewhat insular performance.

But darned if it's practically swiped from right under him by that of a Spanish-accented Christopher Lee, who miraculously manages to make all that expository dialogue his own as Farrell's imported, take-charge shrink.

Trust an 87-year-old ex-Count Dracula to show 'em how it's done.

Production companies: Parallel Films, A.S.A.P. Films
Cast: Colin Farrell, Paz Vega, Christopher Lee, Jamie Sives
Director-screenwriter: Danis Tanovic
Executive producers: Colin Farrell, Simon Fawcett, Tim Haslam
Producers: Alan Moloney, Cedomir Kolar, Marc Baschet
Director of photography: Seamus Deasy
Production designer: Derek Wallace
Music: Lucio Godoy
Editors: Francesca Calvelli, Gareth Young
Sales: HanWay Fims
No rating, 99 minutes