Nick Broomfield‘s Battle for Haditha (Hanway Films), which is playing at Manhattan’s Film Forum from now through 5.20, is arguably the best Iraq War foot-soldier drama to have been released thus far. Mostly because it uses the POV of all the sad victims in this wretched episode and presents the particulars in a way that straddles the line between judgment and lament.

Shot in purposefully ragged docu-drama style with non-actors and deserving, I feel, a solid 8 on a scale of 10, Haditha will certainly be avoided en masse by those brave citizens who don’t want to know from that conflict, and who will absolutely dodge a dramatization of the infamous November 2005 Haditha massacre in which 24 Iraqi men, women and children — 15 of whom were confirmed non-combatants — were slain by U.S.Marines on a revenge bender.
As the Wikipedia page explains, it has been alleged that the killings were retribution for the attack on a convoy of United States Marines with an improvised explosive device that killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas.
I won’t strenuously argue with the belief of Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir that it’s “the closest thing this conflict has produced to a Paths of Glory or an All Quiet on the Western Front” or Robert Koehler‘s view that it summons memories of Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers.” It does visit similar tragic turf, and does, for the most part, offer a convincing simulation of the hell fires consuming that cursed country right now as well as those that propelled several regular guy GIs to do what they did two and a half years ago.
The only serious beef I had after seeing in Toronto last September was that “the improvised dialogue feels a little too blunt and on-the-nose at times,” although I said without qualification that it’s “absorbing, bracing stuff.” But because of some of the actors’ delivery and my resistance to some of the dialogue, I wasn’t completely swallowed by it and so the the emotionality didn’t quite kick in.
Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas has posted a straightforward q & a he did with Broomfield a few days ago.
Interested New Yorkers might want to catch tonight’s 8 pm show at the Film Forum, as it will be followed by a q & a between Broomfield and actor/former U.S. Marine Elliot Ruiz.