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Review by Zach Kerns
From the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, American forces have relied on the assistance of thousands of Iraqis. For providing this assistance, these individuals are threatened by native extremist groups. They are no longer safe within their own homeland.
Kirk Johnson, the subject of The List, has made it his mission to provide a means of escape and resettlement for those in danger. The titular list is a binder filled with the names and documentation of a fraction of the individuals who have personally appealed to Johnson for the assistance that the American government has refused them.
The List is bristling with quiet frustration. In the space where another director might peddle in heavy-handed cliché or alarmist opposition-baiting, filmmaker Beth Murphy has crafted an intimate, bittersweet tapestry.
At every turn, interviews showcase a new heartbreaking facet of the refugee crisis. As juicy of a subject as each of these avenues may be on their own, the film takes pains to not stray too far away from its basic premise. While leaving many questions left unanswered, this pays off by not derailing its precise, pointed message.
Murphy’s direction calls to mind the rallying cry techniques of Peter Davis’ landmark Hearts and Minds. Throughout its nearly 90-minute runtime, the film’s subjects repeatedly appeal to the fabled sense of American morals. Yet, the government agencies created to handle this exact situation are shown to be completely ineffective and a hindrance to the efforts of Johnson and the legal team he recruits to assist him. The odds are high that you will leave this film angry, but that’s just what Murphy wants.
Vox rating: VVVV
THE RATING SYSTEM
VVVVV = AWESOME! SEE IT TWICE
VVVV = DEFINITELY GO SEE IT
VVV = HMM… IT’S OKAY
VV = EH… DVD MAYBE?
V = DON’T BOTHER
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