R2 - United Kingdom - Second Sight
Review written by and copyright: Neil Bray (19th July 2011).
The Film

This is first film directed by Paul Greengrass and the first starring role for star David Thewlis. Made in 1989 it is making its debut on DVD here.

Set in 1982 during The Falklands War this is the true story of Private Deakin who was presumed dead, but later found alive suffering from exhaustion and amnesia. He comes home a hero, only to have doubts cast upon his character by the press, his regiment and his family and friends. Did he desert? What happened to him during the weeks he was missing?

Paul Greengrass went on to direct such blockbuster films as The Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone. He is an accomplished director who can handle tender moments as deftly as he does action sequences. Likewise, David Thewlis, is a very versatile actor with a vast array of roles under his belt. But this was their first film. Does it show? In my opinion, yes, it does.

Donít get me wrong, this is a well acted, well directed, film. Strong performances from everyone involved make it a very engaging film to watch (noticeably the wonderful Tom Bell as Private Deakinís doubting father struggling to cope with the possibility that his son is a coward).

The fault here, is that I never really felt anything for Private Deakin. Despite Thewlisí accomplished performance, I never felt what he was feeling. Partly, I think this comes down to the fact that the film never reveals what really happened during Private Deakinsí absence, but I also think the problem lies primarily in a script that never seems to rise above a gentle hum in tone. The exception to this being a scene where Private Deakinís regiment subject him to a kangaroo trial; but, despite its intensity, even this scene didnít speed my pulse. Private Deakinís memory never returns; so it is left up to the viewer to decide if he was a hero or a coward. However, what the film does manage to convey is that itís never as clear-cut as that; after all Private Deakinís is very much a hero to his little brother and it doesnít matter what anyone else says to the contrary.

By the time I had finished the film I really wished Paul Greengrass had utilised more opportunities to emotionally manipulate the viewer. I wanted to empathise with all the characters I was watching; but the closest I got was watching Tom Bell masterfully convey his confusion and conflict and the tender relationship between Deakinís and his younger brother. No one is sure what happened to Private Deakin; but, by the time the film finished, neither was I.


Presented in 1.78:1 ratio, anamorphically enhanced, the picture quality on show here leaves a lot to be desired. I realise that this is an old film, but surely it was deserving of a better treatment than its received? Dark, blurry with frequent particles of dirt or dust making an appearance, a good re-mastering was definitely needed, and deserved, here.


Only one sound option available here: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. Dialogue seemed particularly quiet on this track. I had to turn my system up to double where it normally is to be able to hear everything; and with a dialogue heavy film thatís not a good thing.


Interview with Director Paul Greengrass - This is a generally interesting an informative piece in which Mr Greengrass talks about how he got into making feature films, his time on 'World in Action' and with Granada, along with his memories of making Resurrected. He comes across as quite a humble and interesting man whose love of his profession is evident.

Interview with Star David Thewlis - This interview has clips from the film inserted throughout. Mr Thewlis talks about his experiences making the film, including meeting Philip Williams on whose story the film is based (interestingly I learnt that Philip Williams makes a cameo appearance in the film). As with the other interview presented on this disc, this is another informative and interesting piece.


A well acted, if slightly underwhelming film on a subject that deserved more. Worth a watch, but donít expect to be too emotionally involved.

The Film: C Video: D Audio: D Extras: C Overall: C


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