22 July: Review

22 July
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The tragic rampage on the Norwegian island of Utøya by Anders Breivik remains deeply ingrained in collective memory. With only seven years having passed since the event, one might wonder if it’s too soon for not just one but two docudramas to revisit the horror. Nevertheless, the filmmakers proceed, with Paul Greengrass’ version, available on Netflix from October 10, delving deeper into the incident.

The film “22 July” starts with a sense of cold-blooded anticipation. For those who witnessed the massacre unfold on live television, the movie spares extended, real-time brutality, focusing for just twenty minutes on the youth summer camp where the tragedy occurred. Greengrass quickly advances the story, giving viewers glimpses into Breivik’s emotionless face while using flashbacks to introduce camp life. Just as the film immerses viewers in the carefree spirit of youth, it shatters that illusion within minutes.

So what comes next? With only 30 minutes elapsed and another two hours remaining, Greengrass shifts his focus to Viljar Hanssen, one of the survivors. His story, which I won’t spoil here, gradually unfolds as the main narrative. Despite some excellent Scandinavian casting, particularly Anders Danielsen Lie’s portrayal of Breivik and Jonas Strand Gravli’s compelling role as Hanssen, the film primarily remains surface-level in its exploration.

While Greengrass is a seasoned director, the film’s plot skims the surface, possibly because the events and Breivik’s trial are still fresh in public memory. The movie could have delved deeper into Breivik’s extremist beliefs and connections, but that would risk politicizing the story and detracting from its raw, emotional impact. The film concludes with an intense final 15 minutes but leaves many questions unanswered.

Netflix’s investment in a talented director tackling a controversial subject essentially guarantees the project’s success. However, Greengrass’ earlier works, like Flight 93 and Bloody Sunday, deliver a more effective docudrama experience. “22 July” occasionally loses its way, meandering through slower passages that aim to build tension but often reach narrative dead-ends. Yet, even in its most intense scenes, the film avoids cheap pathos.

If “22 July” sparks conversations among Netflix’s audience—particularly those who were too young to understand the events when they happened—then it serves a purpose. Watch it on the largest TV screen possible, as Greengrass masterfully reveals nuances in human expressions, nuances that can say far more than words.

Watch 22 July For Free On Gomovies.

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