Starring: Colin Firth, Matthew MacFayden, Kelly MacDonald, Rufus White, Johnny Flynn, and Penelope Wilton.
Directed By: John Madden
Where I Watched it: Netflix
English audio Description Available?: Yes
Narration Provided By: International Digital Center
Narration Written By: Liz Gutman
Narration By: Lynn Gallagher
The Plot: During World War II, in order to secure a successful win for the British troops, intelligence officers come up with a plan that involves misdirecting the Nazi troops by convincing them there is an impending attack elsewhere, to draw the forces away. how do they plan to do this? Well, it involves a corpse.
What Works: Admittedly, this film didn’t quite impress me, however, I kind of knew that a film that could be Oscar bait dropping at this time of year was not a good sign for Netflix, or their confidence in the film. mind you, John maddden directed Best Picture winner Shakespear In Love, and this is a WWII drama starring Academy Award nominee Colin Firth, as well as MacFayden, who has been getting praise from his time on Succession.
So, the film has a strong cast behind it, and the acting is made better for it. Despite my misgivings with the film, it’s quite watchable, in spite of those problems, likely because of john Madden. The title is perhaps a tad more silly than the film, which might throw off any key audience this might have, because really the only humor comes from the concept of the corpse. Otherwise, it is still a WWII movie, and that still is a serious topic all these years later.
It does a good job, perhaps too good, of rounding out the characters, so you do have a good sense of who these people are, allowing even minor characters a moment in the sun. This is a tough call, because I can see people enjoying this, depending on what you expect or want from this film.
What Doesn’t Work: The film actually seems to get a little lost in the weeds. There’s possibly an attempt too much at characters here, which pushes in several non-important story arcs, drawing away from the much more interesting key plot to mystify the Nazi troops with a corpse paratrooper. It’s like, John Madden was offered this film, didn’t understand the plot, and directed a different movie.
The movie he directed arguably sidelines the actual titular operation for side stories about romantic entanglements, potential spies, and nights out on the town drinking and dancing. There exists hardly any battle sequences, easily amounting to less than 2 minutes of this over two hour film.
Basically, this is padded to all hell, and I can’t figure out why? Why was John madden so concerned with running over two hours, and feeding a ton of non-important, or barely important side and supporting characters, instead of streamlining. the most interesting parts around the film are actually the operation, and the only moments of true levity surround the corpse.
This is an odd duck of a film, because I could give it really any grade, except perhaps in the A or F range. it’s somewhere in the big middle, and it feels like this film doesn’t deserve a thumbs down, just because it scattershots and goes wide with its cast and story. Would there be a better cut of this film? Absolutely. But the biggest sin through all of this is that the film is unremarkable as a result of not just trusting in the main story, and thus becomes a film that I’ll struggle to remember anything about as the years go by. Right now, I look at titles I think I’ve watched, and I remember almost nothing about them. i think I saw them, but I can’t even tell you how much I liked it or not. i think that’s where this will fall. And, considering this is based on a true story, that’s a shame.
The Blind perspective: This audio description did an excellent job of following the many characters, and the often busy scenes that seem unimportant, until John Madden decides to make them a continuing story arc. With a broad cast, and a wandering plot, the audio description certainly helped. Also, in the few scenes actually featuring the corpse, or the initial scene that included them trying to find the perfect corpse, the audio description enhanced by helping us understand the state of decay.
Final Thoughts: I honestly struggle with remembering the entirety of this movie that I just watched. It’s not crafted in a way that is particularly memorable, nor will it burn itself into your memories. It might be something you enjoy for the time it gives you, depending on how you like your WWII dramas, but for me, it lacked a clear focus, and went a little too far on the wide net it chooses to cast.
Final Grade: C+