Review: The Bang Bang Club

Steven Silver's The Bang Bang Club tells the story of a group of combat photographers in the final days of Apartheid in South Africa. The film stars Ryan Phillippe, Taylor Kitsch and Malin Akerman.

As you may have seen in the blog's preview section, I've been incredibly excited for The Bang Bang Club, so when I saw it in this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival line-up, I jumped at the chance to see it. A film exploring war-zone photographers is bound to ask some serious questions and this is no exception. One of the main themes of the film is when should someone stop reporting an intervene? This is featured in through shots such as the famous 'Sudan Vulture' photograph being explored in the film. The question is a recurring theme in the film; with several of the characters breaking down under the stress that their lack of intervention has caused.

Silver also reflects the context and events of the South African Apartheid in an almost expertly informative fashion. I never knew a huge amount about the events during that time - but I still found the film was still touching and thought-provoking. We're also treated to a glimpse into the troubles facing the photographers, which we so often forget about when seeing these photographs in newspapers or online. This is where the film really hits it's stride - it's not simply about the war-torn places but instead the relationship between the photographers in the 'Bang Bang Club'.

The performances are all generally excellent - including a masteful lead performance from SSS favourite, Ryan Phillippe. Taylor Kitsch is also wonderful and we really get a sense of the moral trauma his character faces after taking the infamous 'Sudan Vulture' photograph. Malin Akerman is breathtaking throughout the film.

The only flaw I noticed about The Bang Bang Club was that the narrative seems focus on an incredibly happy moment between the characters and then it's as if Silver feels he needs to balance this out with something sad. This pattern continues throughout the film, becoming quite noticeable. However, Silver makes up for this with extremely vivid direction, making full use of the stunning South African locations - particularly in one scene where the characters laze at a tropical lake. The film is also has a nice share of slightly comic moments and a interesting romantic subplot between Phillippe and Akerman's characters.

Overall, The Bang Bang Club is an extremely impressive and thought provoking tale with strong performances and stylish direction from Silver. It really leaves you questioning what you would do if ever in a situation like that.
The Bang Bang Club 1220771505333384260
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