Behind the Lines (1997)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Psychological Drama, War Drama  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Buzz McClain

This well-mounted period piece raises several intriguing big-theme questions about the nature of war -- particularly one as brutal as World War I -- as well as explores the early concepts of the science of psychiatry. Jonathan Pryce's Dr. Rivers is a military man of a progressive mind, and his cerebral run-ins with his famous patient Siegfried Sassoon (James Wilby make for compelling conversations that demand the viewer's attention. Sassoon is sent from the bloody trenches of the front to Rivers' idyllic estate-turned-hospital for "correction," but it soon becomes apparent that Sassoon is having an effect on Rivers, rather than the other way around. While there is no big finish to put it over the top (though ultra-realistic trench battles bracket the film), this very British production has the sort of Merchant/Ivory-ish heavy going that cops kudos by the enlightened few who see it; it's likely to stay with audiences for a while. Those looking for a traditional war movie, however, may find it going slowly over their heads.